Samah Shihadi and Michael Halak During Art Basel

13 - 19 June 2022
 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.
Michael Halak 
Shihadi’s art tends to negotiate the space between lived experience and psychological processes through the lens of fantastical-realism Halak’s art, however, follows western traditions of realist, illusory painting. The selected works  offer up the artist’s reflections upon the identity of Christian Palestinians. Here he references religious precepts and symbols and examines the interlacing themes of politics, religion and materialism.
The underlying criticism of consumer goods as the material expression of spiritual qualities and values comes across both images and symbolic references to numerology. Significantly, once considered in relation to the local context, the relevance of these elements transcends the straightforward meaning within religious doctrine and dogma; rather serving as charged analogy for identity-politics.
While the hyper-realistic style poses an emphasis on particulars and authentic representation, the conceptual approach and permeating sarcasm destabilize the imagery, echoing the artist's personal feeling of impermanence, ambiguous sense of belonging and disenchantment with the political and religious status-quo.