Tabari Artspace is proud to present El Beit, a collective showing of contemporary and modernist
Palestinian artists exploring themes of identity through painting, photography and sculpture. Featuring
the work of three artists – Hazem Harb, Mohammed Joha and Sliman Mansour – the exhibition reflects
on the collective experience of lost identity and displacement in Palestine. The show’s title, which
translates from Arabic as ‘feel at home,’ makes reference to these themes.
By facilitating a dialogue between two different generations of artists, El Beit casts a light on the ongoing
impact of the Palestine-Israel conflict whilst providing an insight into various artistic practices and
perspectives in Palestine today. Issues of modern Palestinian collective memory and its role in shaping
national identity and historic legacy unite the artists, despite their distinct styles and points of reference.
Contemporary artist Hazem Harb shows a series of collage works inspired by the lake in the city of
Tiberias. This lake has long been considered a sacred area that holds significance for Palestinians. The
city was used as an important centre in Palestine for many decades until the 1936–1939 Arab revolt,
which is a central theme in Harb’s works. The collages are formed from a mixture of archive images of
the lake as well as photographs the artist has taken himself.
In addition, Harb’s installs an enlarged archive photograph depicting the interior of a home situated at
Lake Tiberias, transforming a section of the gallery, into a domestic setting. Modernist artist Sliman
Mansour’s paintings Girl in the Village and Father and Mother on their Wedding Day are displayed atop
this photograph. The former depicts a young woman standing in a thobe, a customary Palestinian dress,
framed by an abstract landscape in the background which is evocative of Palestinian tradition and
sentimentality. Father and Mother on their Wedding Day depicts the artist’s parents, enclosed in a
frame of olive trees. Many Palestinians consider the olive tree to be a symbol of nationality and
connection to the land. This installation situates both of the artists’ works in direct dialogue within a
familiar setting, allowing the artists to rebuild and re-imagine a homeland which is now inaccessible. The
immersive environment created by Harb’s and Mansour’s works communicate a particular sense of
displacement and nostalgia.
Septuagenarian artist Mansour, a major pioneer of modernist art in Palestine, has dedicated his career
to visualizing the Palestinian struggle throughout history and is the only one out of the three artists still
residing in the state. With the start of the first Intifada in 1987, he founded the New Visions art
movement. The movement’s decision to boycott Israeli-imported art supplies and use natural, locally
sourced materials, such as mud, henna and clay, gave rise to Mansour’s featured series of Ten Years in
Mud paintings, bringing a tangible dimension to his thematic exploration of land. The abstract works use
the earth itself to depict the land and its people, the cracks from the drying process illustrating the
passage of time.
Mohammed Joha exhibits 14 collage works on paper exploring the destruction of Palestinian homes
throughout the conflict. Some of the houses featured are fictional and others are drawn from the artist’s
memories. Joha considers themes of childhood, loss of innocence, freedom, identity and revolution
within this context.
Through showing Mansour’s works alongside the younger expatriates Hazem Harb and Mohammed
Joha, the exhibition seeks to accentuate the long-standing challenges of the people across decades of
unrest. Mansour has been working with themes relating to Palestinian identity for much of his career
and El Beit also showcases the younger generation of artists who have carried on demanding recognition
for the displaced peoples of Palestine.