THE ROUNDUP – Pop culture highlights from across the region
Saher Nassar – “The Eternal”
Nassar worked as an illustrator and graphic designer before beginning his career as an artist, and these influences remain clear in his work, especially in his pop-art pieces. In “The Eternal”, Nassar portrays the iconic symbol of Palestine, Handala. Originally created by the late political cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, Handala is a 10-year-old boy, usually photographed from behind with his arms crossed behind his back. The image has become a widely used representative of Palestine and its people, symbolizing resistance and rejection of occupation. Nassar, however, approaches it a little differently, with a knowing twist.
Alaa Attoun – “Scene 1”
In the works he has provided for this exhibition, Attoun moves away from the hyper-realistic, emotionally charged pencil drawings for which he is arguably best known in performance photography – which in many ways seems like a natural progression. . For this series, titled “Scene”, Attoun visited three locations in Jerusalem where Palestinian families were displaced from their homes to stage his surreal theatrical shots.
Alaa Albaba – “The Camp III”
Albaba is well known for her works depicting the life of refugees and refugee camps. For example, the show’s brochure explains: “During his residency in the Borj Alshamali refugee camp in Lebanon, he made sketches and murals about the Houla massacre in Syria from real stories. And his Fish Path project consisted of 18 murals in Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan that used fish “as a representation of Palestinian refugees yearning to return to their seaside villages.” Albaba resides in the Alamari refugee camp in Ramallah, where he has established an artist’s studio. His work for this exhibition focuses on the sprawl of this camp and contrasts it with the modern residential and commercial areas that surround it.
Fouad Agbaria — ‘Resisting Decay III’
The Palestinian landscape is “the most important theme of this exhibition”, according to the organizers of the Zawyeh Gallery. Fouad Agbaria’s Impressionist Resisting Decomposition series is just one example, and the works also address another important theme, resistance, through symbols such as the cactus and the olive tree. The use of such plants also refers to the deep-rooted connection that so many Palestinians have with their homeland.
Khaled Hourani – ‘Manaakh’
Hourani – originally from Hebron – is a highly respected figure in the Palestinian art scene, for his work as a curator and writer as well as for his award-winning art. As the former Director General of the Fine Arts Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, his inclusion in the art fair shows the organizer’s commitment to including up-and-coming artists alongside their more established counterparts. In “Manaakh”, explains the brochure, Hourani “wanted to underline the threat of global warming” and “stages the world hanging by a thread, mimicking the fragility of a Christmas ball”.
Ruba Salameh – “Creatures of Regression II”
Salameh was born in Nazareth in 1985. Throughout her career, she has used a variety of mediums to address “issues of land, geography, displacement, nationalism and intervening temporalities in an attempt to contemplate…life everyday life, which in many cases leads to a state of dystopia, using cynicism and irony as tools. His “Creatures of Regression” series, from which this work is drawn, is “inspired by his psychoanalytic observation of the behavior of children, (in particular) showing jealousy towards younger siblings”, explain the organizers.