‘Al Sumud’: The Art of Steadfast Perseverance

‘Al Sumud’: The Art of Steadfast Perseverance

ART:a three-letter word with a magical influence. When I think of art nothing comes to my mind but joyful thoughts filled with energy and creativity. Actually, we live in a world that represents a masterpiece created by an amazing artistic God. We, ourselves (the creation) are the ultimate proof of his great magnificence; as written in Isaiah 49:16 “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”. Our Glorious Lord, the greatest sculptor.

My passion towards art has led me to explore and learn more about Palestinian art. Furthermore, I had the chance to meet “The pioneering artists of Palestine”; “The powerful triangle”: Mr. Nabil Anani, Mr. Sliman Mansour and Mr. Tayseer Barakat. These three artists have used their art as a tool for self-expression, as a tool for non- violent resistance and as a symbol to reflect about their Palestinian Identity. They are considered ‘the artists of Intifada’ whose outputs managed to give meaningful expressions to the cultural concept of Al Sumud. Sumud in Arabic means ‘steadfastness’ or ‘steadfast perseverance’ and is a theme that emerged among Palestinian people through their experience of oppression and resistance in the wake of the 1967 ‘Six Day War’

Despite the challenges, the Palestinian art market has witnessed a continuous growth. There has been a boom in the art movement, awareness and appreciation to local artists and their production. People are now interested in buying art work from Palestine, both locals and internationals alike. A number of art galleries have been established with the aim of promoting and highlighting artists from Palestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip). This has shown a wonderful support to the Palestinian intellectual movement; from the perspective that art is one of the essential cornerstones that reflect both authenticity and modernity, development and steadfastness of a nation. Quoting the Norwegian Minister of International Development, Erik Solheim “Art is of vital importance in national Identity building. It helps to build bridges, plays a part in social development and inspires people to reflect on their situation”.

As a Palestinian art-passionate I am so proud of the cultural treasure we are sharing not just locally but globally too.  Palestinian art is being exposed around the world. Paintings, sculptures, photography exhibitions and video installations are asked to participate in International art fairs and many have been awarded International prizes.

I hope that with this short article I was able to encourage you to appreciate and learn more about Palestinian art. I think Palestinian artists, with their ability to turn into art what once was pain and despair, have an important lesson to teach all of us. We always have the chance to start a new bright day, a fresh colorful start. We have a choice to paint our canvas with our own true colors. Make everyday your masterpiece. Dream it. Paint it. Live it. Take Van Gogh’s advice: “I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”

Paintings are described from left to right: The first painting, by Mr. Sliman Mansour, depicts the olive branch as a symbol of peace and steadfastness. The second painting is by Tayseer Barakat, he sees the form of his art as a reaffirmation of ancient Palestinian art. He asserts: “The ancients touch me. I utilize many shapes and forms from their imagery.” The third one is by Nabeel Anani, in his painting a Palestinian woman, wearing a traditional indigenous dress, is opening her arms to protect Jerusalem. It is important to note that these three artists were not allowed to use colors from the Palestinian flag during the intifada. If you look closely all of these painting lack the colors of the Palestinian flag. We are thankful that restrictions did not stop them to produce art!