Issue No.
179, March 2013 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
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Nasser Rashed Zalloum

Born to a well-known Palestinian businessman, Nasser was destined to become a merchant himself. He successfully accomplished that goal as he progressed in life and followed his father’s footsteps. He listened when his father advised him, “ If you can’t do what you love, love what you do, and you shall become successful.” Today, Nasser owns a very successful imports and distribution company in Puerto Rico, but he could never let go of his true passion-the arts.

By the time he turned 50, he had received numerous offers and invitations to exhibit his artwork in countries around the world. He decided it was time to submerge himself 100 percent in the art world.

His talent first exploded when he was a young kid at De La Salle High School in Jerusalem, where students were encouraged to learn music. At the age of nine, he secretly taught himself how to play one of the most complicated Arabic instruments, the oud. It was not a popular instrument for his age group, since it was not an “in” thing to do. But, he didn’t care.

Although he tried to take music classes, he felt more comfortable playing by ear. From that point on, his burning desire for music grew and he learned how to play the drums and piano. When he entered Birzeit University, he taught drums and joined the Sanabel Music Group as both the oud player and the drummer, which allowed him participate in many major concerts in different countries during his college years.

Destiny played its role and Nasser made the decision to pursue his career in Puerto Rico, where he discovered a new artistic talent, sculpting and wheel throwing. In less than a month, he made an Archangel Michael, which was almost a metre high. Sculpting became a huge passion for him, and for many years he taught ceramics at San Juan Arts College.

While teaching, he decided to enrol in digital art classes. He needed to draw a series of characters that he had created called “mansitos,” and he wanted to use a professional tool other than Excel, which he had creatively utilised as a drawing mechanism in the past, in spite of the fact that it was not made for such a purpose.

The mansitos took on a life of their own and became so successful that various investment firms are negotiating with Nasser to make a movie and TV series out of the concept. That was a real turning point in Nasser’s artistic career. After a few sessions, Nasser (who had always been a self-taught artist), decided to drop out of the course and discover the digital art world on his own. And so his new journey began.

He started to follow the work of many great digital artists worldwide and saw a huge challenge in front of him. He wanted to use technology in such a way that his artwork would still be warm and meaningful. This formula is not an easy one since computers have no feelings.

He meticulously experimented with Photoshop and Illustrator to push his work as far as possible into what he would refer to as digital impressionist artwork. His vision was to challenge the process so that the end result would be exceptionally out-of-the-box and creative.

His first step was printing on canvas in such a way that it looked like a real oil painting. The secret was in the type of canvas used and the various layers of printing (with 100 percent precision), one on top of the other. This technique accomplished his mission and opened the door to various creations. Now he has used this technique to design a line of clothing and home décor.

At the age of 50, Nasser decided to launch his solo artistic career in his homeland, Palestine. He participated in the Qalandia International Art Festival, where he had a very successful exhibition at Yabous Centre. He was invited by the Al- Maamal foundation in Jerusalem to join several international and national artists who exhibited at the festival. He was also the first artist to exhibit at the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah. (A big percentage of the proceeds from all his artwork goes to charity.) His success pushed him to make the decision to move all the way to the Middle East to pursue his artistic future.

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