“Rebirth” (2014, 40 x 50 cm): original acrylic on canvas by Palestinian renowned artist Tayseer Barakat.
Tayseer Barakat’s collection “Lightness of Being” brings together his most recent work, an extraordinary series of paintings produced over the course of two years. Steeped both in the long history of Arab and Palestinian visual art and mythology, and in contemporary aesthetics of political struggle, the collection is a stunning exploration of anger, pain and endurance.
The paintings are peopled by silhouettes, rendered a flat style that recalls the ancient art and cave paintings from which Barakat draws, but layered onto each canvas to produce an uncertain depth. Sometimes immersed or obscured by their surroundings, sometimes emerging starkly from them, the figures are buffeted by swirling colours and patterns that repeat insistently across the series. Recurring motifs – walls against which figures are frozen, the bird that perches but is never in flight – further bind a collection of paintings which, though different, share a simultaneous sense of poised immobility and furious struggle.
His collection plays with ancient and modern references, including repeated jumbles of faded text. But it does not produce a smooth synthesis of styles. Rather, it performs their sometimes difficult interactions, articulating the contested nature of Palestine’s place among the global struggles and suffering of the twenty-first century, and the ways this may be navigated, or not, by language and by art.
Tayseer Barakat was born in Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza in 1959 and carried out his arts education in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1983. After completing his studies, he moved to Ramallah where he has been based ever since – both teaching and creatingart.
Barakat’s style and technique are of international stature, often appealing to a wide range of audiences and being one of Palestine’s foremost artists working nowadays. He has held 9 solo exhibitions and has participated in numerous group exhibitions with many of his contemporaries in Japan, USA, Brazil, Europe and across the Arab world, including a previous exhibition at Zawyeh Gallery in 2014.
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