Issue No.
162, October 2011 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
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     Artist of the Month

Mohamed Abusal

Mohammed Jamal Abusal was born in 1976 in Bureij, located in central Gaza. He lived his childhood in Palestine and in exile, spending 12 years travelling with his family.

Abusal discovered his talent for drawing when he was far from home but returning to Palestine lit a fire. In his words:

“The fields were beautiful, painted nature. The sea and Gemayzeh, markets and old houses, the people and the good guys and the rebels fire. I became friends with many artists, especially from the camps. We discuss and exchange views and experiences. What brings us together is the love of teamwork.”

Those friendships were to give rise to the Kaljaddariaat collective, which specialised in outdoor exhibitions and installations.

Circumstances deprived him of the opportunity to study art formally, so he learned his techniques and theory from assiduous reading, experimentation, and attendance at any and all available exhibitions.

“Blue Window” was the title of Abusal’s first personal exhibition in Gaza in 1999, presenting nearly forty attendees with an experience of symbolic expression, in which an actress portrayed physical theatre to represent mood and feeling.

Since then he has gone on to a rich and varied career, but he says his personal highpoints are community-oriented. Painting a wall with the mysterious artist “Japanese,” and drawing children’s stories in workshops with the French artist Daniel Maja.

Abusal was recently selected by the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre in Ramallah to participate in the “Academy of Arts September” at the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation in Jordan. He used the experience to explore ideas of colour and space, aiming to create ever more visually striking pieces.

He began to engrave on zinc and print graphics, developing a long-lasting love for the use of technology in artwork. His graphics were to impress in a sequence of exhibitions, including “Identity” at the Sakakini Centre.

The year 2004 was to be a breakthrough year. Abusal took up residencies in Fairmont, USA and then at the Senegal International Arts Workshop. When he returned to the Middle East it was to Beirut, to deliver a photography exhibition in association with the Lebanese Ministry of Culture. He finished the year with a bang, presenting the epic and technically challenging “Experience of Cactus” installation in Rodez, France.

Since returning to Gaza, Abusal has taken a new direction, based on “conceptual art and new realism.” These ideas came together in “Lighting,” a 2009 exhibition which took a light-hearted look at how Palestinians could best cope with power cuts.

Today he remains a traveller, performing numerous shows in Europe. He has become a teacher, delivering classes with the renowned Eltiqa collective and ArtSchool Palestine. Most of all he is a man of experiments, for taking risks and daring to take the road less travelled, as his growing community of fans will attest.

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