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Palestinian Art: Bawayeh, Bishara, Boullata

Raed Bawayeh

Raed Bawayeh was born at 1971 in Qattana, a Palestinian village in the area of Jerusalem. Fatema, his mother told him, "Your birth was very difficult," and she continued with tears in her eyes, "I could not go to the hospital. I had a lot of pain, so you born at the stairs of the house in the early morning. Because of that I called you Raed (‘forerunner’)." In 2000, Bawayeh had the opportunity to study photography at the Musrara College of Photography, Media and Modern Music. He graduated in 2004, with the ambition to realize his dream somewhat closer. In that same year he went to France as a resident artist at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris for six months. It was his first visit to Europe. This long sojourn was a chance for him to have the time to observe his internal reality and his people’s reality of the occupation from the outside.

Reflecting on his art, Bawayeh comments,“ I'm a photographer. To me, photography is a mission and a world of its own. I often take shots of the marginalized and of ‘the other’ in the Palestinian society, i.e. those who are not put under the spotlight in the conflict with the Israelis.” Bawayeh worked with his family and also worked with Palestinian day labourers, who formed the subject matter for one of his recent exhibitions entitled “ID 92559661,” which was shown at the British Mandate prison and consequently at the French Cultural Centre, both in Jerusalem.

In his work Bawayeh uses a medium format camera and takes photos in black and white because through these two colours he feels he can communicate his message better. He uses many of the documentary and impressionist techniques and edits his photos in a way that he can control as an artist, leaving very little space for coincidence.

Rana Bishara

Rana Bishara was born in Tarsheha in the Galilee in 1971. She finished her BA in Fine Arts and Women's studies from Haifa University in 1994. Her work has been on display in group and solo exhibitions in many cities inside and outside of Palestine. 

Bishara uses traditional mediums, like dried Cactus leaves, different spices and plants that she uses to invoke smells of places and times. Bishara’s art is often three-dimensional although it also includes watercolors. Many represent Palestinian villages, like “My village” (1996) which symbolizes the Palestinian village surrounded from all sides by new settlements.

Kamal Boullata

Kamal Boullata was born in 1942 in Jerusalem where he grew up. He graduated from the Rome Fine Arts Academy and from the Corcoran Museum Art School. In 1993 and 1994, he was the recipient of a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship to conduct research on Islamic art in Morocco. Boullata’s writing on art has appeared in periodicals, exhibition catalogs and encyclopedias

Boullata works mainly in silk screen. His compositions are based on the angular Kufi script, which he uses as a representational form of art. In a review of his work, Moroccan art critic Abdelkebir Khatibi wrote:  “Elaborated with remarkable continuity and patience, Boullata's work is that of a surveyor, an artist of proportion and measurement. Behind this passion for geometry lies the tradition of icon-painting, which forged the beginnings of his artistic training, a tradition that has maintained a venerable continuity between Byzantium and the Arabo-Islamic civilization of the Middle East.”