By Nabil Anani
April 2 to September 15, 2023
Available at https://zawyeh.net/nabil-anani/
Zawyeh Gallery (Ramallah | Dubai) is pleased to introduce an online virtual exhibition of selected works by the renowned Palestinian artist Nabil Anani.
Anani presents the Palestinian landscape without disruptions – a perfectly manicured, well-tended landscape. He paints the picturesque hills of Palestine without the ever-increasing Israeli settlements, bypass roads, roadblocks, walls, and watchtowers normally visible on every corner. He creates the Palestine of his dreams, inspired by his memories as a child growing up on the hills of Halhoul, a town near Hebron.
Olive groves, cypress trees, and wheat fields dot the hills and horizon as though they were part of an embroidered dress. The canvases are divided by horizontal lines and spaces inspired by the ancient terraces that separate the fields, conveying a panoramic perspective and a rural ambiance. The trees carry different characters in each work, as if they were putting on different costumes for each show.
Anani has addressed the Palestinian landscape and rural life throughout his artistic journey, and his fascination with them has inspired his artworks. In this series of works, one can rarely spot a human, for the primary focus remains on the aesthetic of nature, giving the audience a chance to ponder and appreciate the scenic terrain.
In this exhibition, Anani chases a utopia that resides in the imagination of all Palestinians, whether they have been forcefully dispossessed of their lands, confined in small restricted areas, or prevented from accessing different parts of their homeland. Whether he attempts to capture a moment in the future or protest the brutal Israeli destruction of the land and the livelihood of its people, Anani offers a vision of a better future, a dream of an ideal Palestine worthy of pursuing.
Experimentation with different media and the use of intense, vibrant colors remain methods that distinguish Anani’s style. In this series, he uses mixed natural media, such as straw, spices, dry flowers, and plants, experimenting with color and texture. The result is a distinct surface and the evocation of memorable feelings that carry us to Palestine despite all the borders.
Anani grew up during a critical period in Palestinian history. He was born in 1943 during the British mandate, and his childhood was shaped by the Nakba, which saw the displacement of Palestinians by Israel as well as the destruction of many cities, towns, and villages. Amid the destruction of his homeland, the artist sought refuge in the vineyards and rolling hills of Halhoul, a town in the southern West Bank, where he completed his early education. Throughout his career, these pastoral scenes and his experiences of village life have remained central to his practice. The landscapes he depicts, however, are not simply representations of his own observations, but rather expressions of collective memory and solidarity with his homeland. Unlike many of his peers, the revolutionary spirit of Anani’s art comes less through his subject matter than through the use of his medium – the revival of folkloric style and the incorporation of organic, local materials such as straw, natural dyes, and wood that result in uniquely textured surfaces.