OCCUPIED: Palestinian Artworks

Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Palestinians have been living under occupation for over 50 years. Though many accounts have been heard about daily struggles and injustices, it's impossible to know how it feels unless experiences first-hand. Being occupied is not just a force that takes over the land, it restricts people physically and can even inhabit the mind. Art is one of he great forms of expression and has helped these artists communicate their thoughts, feelings and reality. Through the pieces in this exhibition we can experience frustration and disillusion but also perseverance and hope.

Prison, Sliman Mansour, 1982, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Prison (1982) depicts five men, their hands cuffed behind their back and their heads covered so they cannot see. They are huddled together, back to back, confined within the walls of a prison. Most likely Palestinian and although faceless, the men appear strong, youthful and resilient in their stance. Yet melancholy undertones run throughout, as the future for this generation appears desolate and bleak. The oppression has caused for a fractured identity.

Sandby #14, Hani Zurob, 2008, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Hani’s practice provides an important voice in contemporary Palestinian culture, as well as a significant contribution to the creation of an Arab aesthetic. Ultimately though, while Zurob’s art gives powerful expression to the Palestinian collective experience, it can also be seen in the context of more universal themes of personal identity and embraces humanity beyond the Palestinian context

Zeft Ala Qemash 02, Hani Zurob, 2017, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

According to the artist, the early meaning of zeft in Arabic is asphalt. Zeft it also commonly used as a pejorative term that expresses a wide range of feelings from a disheartened state of mind to revulsion, or a curse when applied to a situation, and sometimes it refers to misfortune. It is well known that Israel’s national interests and colonial project demand acquiring the language of the enemy, and the Israeli soldiers were certainly aware of the negative nuances of the word zeft when they covered the streets with asphalt. Besides, we must remember that in Gaza, with the circulation of political leaflets being as restricted as the mobility of people, messages and statements are transmitted through graffiti or inscriptions on houses and walls in public spaces.

Zeft Ala Qemash 01, Hani Zurob, 2016, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Zeft Ala Qemash (Zeft on canvas) acts as revenge for the “blackout” and censorship imposed on Palestinians that morning. They are voicing and performing the very expression inscribed on them that recalls the action of the artist.

Untitled, Abdulrahman Katanani, 2015, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Abdulrahman Katanani is a young artist whose work is noted for its intensity in portraying a vivid recollection of stories amassed throughout the years that initially depict the tragedy and hardships endured at the camp. Through his work, he is delivering the campʼs message of resistance and endurance using tools from the camp that resonate happiness, apathy, empathy, tears and joy. Katanani has come to incorporate found objects from the camp such as bottle caps, rags and utensils, with corrugated iron and barbed wire – materials indigenous to the camp’s structure. Some of his more recent work include olive trees that are native to Palestine, rendered in barbed wire; as well as children made from corrugated iron flying kites formed from tin cans.

Metamorphosis III, Steve Sabella, 2012, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Metamorphosis is a series of photocollages with images of everday life; Sabella cuts and layers the outside world into infinite internal landscapes.

Metamorphosis IV, Steve Sabella, 2012, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Recognizable objects and forms are detached from their functions, the viewer's interpretation divorced from perception.Leading us to question our everyday readings of the visual world, these forms seem to change every time we look at them.

Metamorphosis, Steve Sabella, 2012, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait
38 Days of Re-collection, Steve Sabella, 2014, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

With 38 Days of Re-Collection, we glimpse scenes of aesthetic plenitude, just beyond reach. Beyond reach because the images are flattened, obscured, fragmented, blurred and discolored. Their supports are irregular, each being singular, being ripped from walls, ripped from time, opening layers of the past. They are portals to the past, peeled-away strata, archaeological traces.

Untitled from the series “Occupied Pleasures”, Tanya Habjouqa, 2009, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Young women, fully dressed in 'jilbab' and head scarves exercise in a gym in Gaza. The women say they cover up at the gym because they have no privacy in the public sphere due to limited economic options. They say they cannot afford private gyms and they're tired of being stuck at home.

West Bank And Gaza Strip, Mary Tuma, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

"My work addresses issues of the transformation of the body and the spirit through the use of clothing forms applied to found objects or placed within a contextual environment. The use of old fabrics and found objects is important in creating a work or environment that evokes a feeling of loss, or distant memory. I am interesting in the sorting of images from the past, images that are like shadows or ghosts, something not quite whole and no longer real but still of great influence and power.

In most of these works there is evidence of loss—an allusion to the passing of time; a vacant space within a form once occupied; an identity that merges fully with it's environment. To speak of this loss, I superimpose worlds. "Bodies" of sorts are caught up in unmistakably alien forms that speak of our transformative nature. A "skeletal" object or structure, which provides a context and framework, is redressed within a sheer, ghost-like skin: the resulting forms are like skins and bones—the interior and exterior of one possible system.

There is an intangible "place" where the body becomes an emotional landscape. Though I cannot define this, it is a goal of the work to describe that place. Ideally, this leads to work both mournful and humorous, simultaneously real and surreal." - Mary Tuma

Action 105, Reza Aramesh, 2015, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

This young man stripped to his underclothes is disturbingly emasculated and alluring. Aramesh’s series of Actions are sculptural-cinematic reenactments of episodes of violence and humiliation perpetrated by men upon men across conflict zones from Korea and Vietnam to Algeria and Palestine. Referencing historic representations of Christian martyrs, such as Saint Sebastian, Aramesh’s youth has a fraught presence, while the plinth is a telling reminder of the real concrete barriers that divide a contested region.

Coke it is' from the series "Walls of Gaza II", Laila Al Shawa, 1994, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait
The initial impetus for a piece often comes from her own photographs, which are later transformed by means of silkscreen printing techniques. The written word is often present in her work, as in the acclaimed Walls of Gaza series (1994), which focused on the heart-rending messages of hope and resistance spray-painted, in defiance of Israeli censorship, by the ordinary people of Gaza upon the walls of their city.

Blood Money from the series "Walls of Gaza II", Laila Al Shawa, 1994, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait
Letter to a Mother from the series "Walls of Gaza II", Laila Al Shawa, 1994, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait
Towards Liberation from the series "Walls of Gaza II", Laila Al Shawa, 1994, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait
Passages to Freedom "Walls of Gaza II", Laila Al Shawa, 1994, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait
The Deal from the series "Walls of Gaza II", Laila Al Shawa, 1994, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait
Title Unknown, Ahmed Abu Al Adas, 2018, From the collection of: Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) Kuwait

"My fascination with Arabic poetry My love for the beauty of Arabian horses My obsession for painting My passion for Arabic calligraphy Is the essence of my art." - Al Adas
This piece was created in solidarity with Ahed Tamimi; a Palestinian activist living in the West Bank known or her confrontations with Israeli soldiers.

Zebradonk' is about an intervention that the zoo keeper at Palestine Zoo made in response to the embargo of the Gaza strip. Palestine Zoo had no zebras so the keeper painted two white donkeys with black stripes so that the children could have a better experience at the zoo.
This playful intervention shows how through the act of painting the donkeys, an innovative experience was achieved in the face of dire circumstances. These small interventions can change everything and create new meaning. A seminal moment or act becomes a material thing. The zebradonk has also become synonymous with the Palestinian state because of Benjamin Netanyahu's comment: when referring to the Declaration of Principles, he said 'when you walk into the zoo and see an animal that looks like a horse and has black and white stripes, you do not need a sign to tell you this is a zebra. It is a zebra. When you read this agreement, the Declaration of Principles, even if the words ‘Palestinian State’ are not mentioned there, you do not need a sign. This is a Palestinian State.' The double take of the act of painting within painting is a self referential approach similar to that made by the zoo keeper. However things are never as they seem. Everything changes everything.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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