Between Art, Siege,
Shareef Sarhan started his career as an artist in 1995, at Learn Arts, a fine arts program at the YMCA in Gaza City. He then moved into a new and different world as he looked for beauty, art, and a means to express his love of nature and humanity. He was introduced to modern art and its relevance to daily life through his encounter with the Syrian artist Marwan Qasab Bashi at the Summer Arts Academy in Amman.
Soon after this fortuitous meeting, Sarhan’s work began to change, gradually and clearly. His work and projects varied between drawing, installation, digital photography, and even video, which were his key to the outside world. His artworks have been exhibited in Paris, London, the United States, Italy, and a number of Arab countries. Sarhan was deeply affected by the siege that was imposed on Gaza City in 2007, and gained a maturity that became evident in terms of the means he used in order to communicate the Gaza reality to the outside world. He introduced the international community to this small spot of 360 square kilometers and 2 million people through Gaza Living, a project that includes a book of photographs of life in Gaza and how it has been distorted and disfigured by years of siege. In 2015, a project called War Game was created to reflect the Gazan experience during the 51 days of war by using children’s games as a means to express how war affects children.
In 2016, Sarhan worked on producing Gaza Lighthouse, the first synthetic work in the public space – a new experience for Palestinian art as well as for Sarhan. This work relied on reusing the environment and war remnants in building the first lighthouse for Gaza but with a new concept and materials. The project resonated greatly with the people of Gaza, whose powerful positive reaction proved the success of Sarhan’s desire to transfer art from the showroom to the street.
Sarhan is now working on a group of new projects to be implemented between 2017 and 2020. The projects include installations in the public space, a new book of photographs about traditional industries in Palestine, and a modern conceptual project about immigrants – an issue that has become one of the world’s most pressing problems. At this time, Sarhan is trying to secure funding for these projects.