Exhibition Of The Month: Lasting Impressions By Samia Halaby

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Don’t miss Palestinian artist Samia Halaby’s latest exhibition, which tells the story of her emerging expressions of art over the years

It’s always wonderful to catch an artist who brings history alive with art, especially when that experience spans over six decades. Samia Halaby, the Palestinian artist best known for her approach to contemporary abstract art, is also a renowned contributor towards the narrative on modern Arab art, and her current exhibition organised by Sharjah Museums Authority is one that shouldn’t be missed.

Curated by Inass Yassin, the works on display are a sight to behold with a storyline that recounts Halaby’s emerging expressions of art over the years, referencing periods in time that influenced her. Born in Jerusalem in 1963, sentiments of exile and displacement figure prominently in her work, like the series on Olive trees which are a powerful subject that symbolise both the resilience and the hardships of the Palestinians.

Showcasing over 200 pieces by Halaby, some of which have been loaned from other museums for the exhibition, the retrospective also sheds light on some of her other most heartfelt collections such as the Kafr Qasem massacre which took her 12 years to complete, while references to nature and cities, each one carrying a meaning and capturing a relationship, are also evident throughout. “There are references of the relationship between a city and trees, inspired by Dubai, and then there is a reference to the blueness of the sky just before dawn, and how it contrasts to electric light,” she shares. “There’s a painting about Amman in Jordan, and it is about the colour blue in the evening and the yellow lights of the mosque in the night that appear. There’s something from nature in each of the paintings, and many have more than one reference because abstraction is a general idea,” she shares.

In all of her works, Halaby gives a message of optimism to viewers, inviting people to see reality all around and then act accordingly. “When we work together, we can accomplish things, but it is hard to accomplish anything on your own,” she says. In Dubai for the opening of the exhibition, she introduces the Samia A. Halaby Foundation which she established in 2019 to support Palestinian women and children. Through the foundation, she hopes to work with collaborators and supporters, united in spirit towards the Palestinian cause to support, empower and nurture creative talents, about which she says: “I want young people to see that they can determine their own fate. I want to assert that Palestinians can accomplish things internationally, and that we can create our own concept of who we are, and where we can go.” Lasting Impressions featuring the works of Samia Halaby runs until 7 January 2024 at the Sharjah Art Museum

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