Friday, January 12, 2007

Contemporary Palestinian Art

Art strives to represent every aspect not only of human existence but of human aspirations. The Palestinian identity is not restricted to the history of Palestine. Were it so, the Palestinian people would have been destroyed by a century of ethnic cleansing and dispossession. Instead, the Palestinian identity only has been strengthened by adversity and the vision of a victorious future is one of the means through which the next generation can endure whatever trials they must, in the same way that the Palestinian people have weathered the trials of the past hundred years.

'Victory Dance' by Ismail Shammout depicts the very soul of Palestine. In a traditional thob, she holds the flag of Palestine aloft, and her proud courage and transcendent beauty call out to the Palestinian people, leading them through the horrors of past and present life under Zionist Occupation to a future where Victory has been achieved.

Explore the art of Ismail Shammout through the links found at the right of this page. 'Victory Dance' is one of the most beloved icons of Palestinian Resistance. A copy of this print can be obtained through the Palestine Online Store.

The traditional 'thob', a potent expression of identity for the women of Palestine, featured in many of Ismail Shammout's works. In fact, he utilised many traditional ancient symbols of Palestine, including the pomegranite and the dove. I wrote a version of the old Palestinian folktale of 'Hab Rumman' a few years ago. I hope to add it to this site at some point. Meanwhile, please take a few moments to explore Ismail Shammout's website and browse his 'exhibitions'.

Unfortunately, the link to biographical information about Ismail Shammout also serves as his obituary. His death occurred last summer. Although we have lost an artist of great talent and vision, he has left his people a magnificent legacy that enshrines the past as well as creating a light to lead us towards the future.

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