Skip to Main Content

Palestinian Art: Abboud, Al Ali, Al Hallaj

Jumana Abboud

Lives and works in Jerusalem. Uses different media,
including drawing, video, performance and text
to depict both memory, loss and resilience. The
artist was born in Shefa-Amer (Palestine, 1971)
before moving to Canada in 1979 where she
studied art at the Ontario College of Art
(Toronto). She studied at the Bezalel Academy
of Art and Design (Jerusalem), where she
attained her BFA. She has given several
workshops and seminars, some of them
focusing on Palestinian-Israel dialogue.

Jumana Emil Abboud: The Diver
Statement of the artist about her video work

The inspiration for making the Diver came out of my desire to create a piece that was a consequence of nationalistic or gender-based associations, as a result of my coming from and living in a directly intense environment that is continuously fighting to claim its national rights (Palestine/Israel). Of course, it comes from a very personal place: I am Palestinian, I grew up in Canada and now I live in Jerusalem; I find myself in situations where I have to explain myself (my identity), to be in the defensive somehow, and although I'm grateful for the treasure of experiences I have, I often feel displaced and weak. I long for a time when peace can be restored in this world, but I'm told I am naïve.

Naji Al Ali

Naji Salim al-Ali (1938–1987) was a Palestinian cartoonist, noted for the political criticism of Israel in his works. He drew over 40,000 cartoons, which often reflected Palestinian and Arab public opinion and were sharply critical commentaries on Palestinian and Arab politics and political leaders. He is perhaps best known as creator of the character Handala, pictured in his cartoons as a young witness of the satirized policy or event depicted,and who has since become an icon of Palestinian defiance. On 22 July 1987, while outside the London offices of al-Qabas, a Kuwaiti newspaper for which he drew political caricatures, Naji al-Ali was shotand mortally wounded.[1]

Naji al-Ali had no political affiliations and the absence of slogans and dogma in his work brought both success and criticism. He was opposed to terrorism and the absence of democracy and, not belonging to any political group, tried to be a true representative of Arab public opinion.

Few regimes or political groups in the region escaped his satirical drawings. His cartoons portrayed the bitter struggle and plight of the Palestinian people against Israeli occupation and oppression. He also campaigned against the absence of democracy, widespread corruption and gross inequality in the Arab world. He was said to have antagonized virtually everyone in the Middle East, Arab, and Jew, conservative and radical alike.

Mustafa Al Hallaj

Mustafa al-Hallaj (1938–2002) was born in Salama (town) in the Jaffa region of British Mandate Palestine.
Al-Hallaj was a pioneer in the Arab art world, known as an “icon of contemporary Arab graphic arts”. His work was often devoted to his lost homeland, Palestine, and he is also said to have tried to turn Palestine into the form and content of his artistic school.

Hallaj’s work is “inspired by ancient Canaanite legends, folk tales, and Palestinian cultural icons, and is a sequence of pictorial narratives which had reached 114 meters at the time of his death, summarizing the history of the Palestinian people from 11 th Century BC to the present. Entitled Improvisations of Life, this work is 114 meters long. It portrays visual memories and recollections, and a record of civilization dating back 10000 years – a mix of myth and fertility with the intifada of the Palestinians.