Palestinian hyperrealists Samah Shihadi and Michael Halak in Basel, Switzerland, June 13- 19, 2022.
Selected works by the two artists present a multi-faceted gaze into lived experiences in Haifa, Israel, approached at the intersections of sociology, spirituality, gender and culture.
Selected works see the artist meditates upon her complex and conflicting internal (psychological) and external (social) worlds. As a dual marginal existing within a liminal space Shihadi navigates the clashes between individuality and responsibility that inform notions of womanhood in her society and extend towards women, globally. The artist draws from art history and impactful feminist figures from the art world. Women artists such as Shirin Neshat, Frida Khalo and Georgia O’Keeffe are palpable influences who have, like Shihadi, been challenged by their social circumstances and have taken to art to synthesise and articulate their gendered experiences from a sublime space
Shihadi exists in an environment, where faith can never be far from the fore. She has been exposed to and absorbed by the multiple ideologies that surround her in Haifa. Magic and mysticism run through Shihadi’s work, apparent in icons derived from the zodiac and the practice of tarot card reading. Shihadi’s work oscillates between classical-figurative realism, which dutifully captures and records that which surrounds her and fantastical surrealism that draws from the artist’s preoccupations with mysticism. Shihadi employs a dramatic approach to hyperrealism sketching using chiaroscuro to form a magical reality that blends both fiction and fantasy. Symbolism - religious, ritualistic, political, and cultural - is interwoven into much of Shihadi’s work, forming complex layers that the viewer must unpack in order to absorb deeper meanings.