From Palestine with Art: Exhibition ‘reclaiming narratives’ opens in London

Curator Faisal Saleh says the exhibition comes at a time when Palestinian identity is “coming under attack”.
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An exhibition showcasing the vibrant culture, heritage, and struggles of the Palestinian people has opened in central London.

From Palestine with Art features a range of Palestinian artists and seeks to shed light on their experiences, history, and aspirations.

The exhibition was first showcased at the 59th Venice Biennale Arte 2022 and has now opened at the P21 Gallery in Euston.

The exhibition comes at a time when Palestinian identity is “coming under attack”.

“We wanted to provide the viewer with a glimpse of what Palestinian art looks like and more importantly of who the Palestinians are,” said Faisal Saleh, curator and director of the Palestine Museum US.

Faisal Saleh, curator and director of the Palestine Museum USFaisal Saleh, curator and director of the Palestine Museum US
Faisal Saleh, curator and director of the Palestine Museum US

“Palestinian identity expressed through artwork here is very important. Our identity is coming under attack. We’ve been told we don’t exist, we’ve been told people don’t want to see you.

“We’re being cancelled all over the place. There is what I call cultural terrorism taking place where people who speak favourably of Palestine get retaliated against.

“It is something we hope the art world stands up against and they will support Palestinians and prevent retaliation against people who support Palestine.”

The exhibit highlights the growing recognition of Palestinian art and culture globally, featuring 20 artists with different styles and mediums of choice.

The show includes a 25-minute-long film by the late Gazan journalist Roshdi Sarraj, who was killed last October.

“We had this exhibit before the war and it was all self-contained but now the environment has changed before and after Gaza,”Saleh explained.

“We could not show the same exhibit without any recognition of Gaza. Our goal is not to show a lot of war and a lot of scenes that are going to make people cry.

“We want to get the point across but we want to do it in a way that shows the humanity of the Palestinians and shows that there’s a just case there.

“We want to show that Palestinians are human.”

Immigration by by Mohammed AlhajImmigration by by Mohammed Alhaj
Immigration by by Mohammed Alhaj

Among the artists on display is Nabil Anani, who is considered one of the founders of the contemporary Palestinian art movement.

His work in the exhibition includes a three-metre wide by one-metre and 40-centimetre high landscape, the largest he has painted that captures the overlapping hills and trees that dominated Palestine’s land.

Another highlight is Immigration, a work by Mohammed Alhaj, reflecting on the Palestinian experience of migration with stark silhouettes scattered across layered, textural vistas of yellow and grey.

Alhaj is one of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced in Gaza since the war began. He has been living in a tent with his family in Khan Younis since the end of last year.

Saleh said he has not heard from him since January. 

A new contribution to the exhibition also includes three sketches of Gazan children by the Haifa-based artist Janan Abdu.

From Palestine with Art is on at the P21 Gallery, 21-27 Chalton St, London NW1 1JD till March 2.