Art in a Time of War: A Look At the Artwork On Arab Borders
Photo Credits: Atlantic Council
By: Joanna Sawtari / Arab America Contributing Writer
Different Mediums of Expression
Art has long been a medium for expressing cultural heritage, identity, and societal narratives. From ancient civilizations to modern-day societies, artwork has played a significant role in capturing the essence of a region. In the Arab world, where diverse cultures and histories coexist, the borders that separate nations have become canvases for artistic expressions. Graffiti has emerged as a prominent and widely recognized art form for artists in warzones, allowing them to boldly express their opinions. Renowned artists like Banksy have utilized this medium to convey their strong stances on Arab borders- while other artists have gone unnoticed.
Born in Gaza and based in the UK, Laila Shawa was a prominent visual artist whose work is based on a heightened sense of realism and targets injustice and persecution wherever their roots may be.
Laila Shawa, Fashionista Terrorista II, 2011 / Photo Credits: October Gallery
Fashionista Terrorista II is part of Laila Shawa’s renowned series “Walls of Gaza,” which played a significant role in establishing her prominence as an artist. This particular artwork, Fashionista Terrorista II, stands as a striking representation of Shawa’s style and message. Through this piece, she skillfully combines graffiti elements with mixed-media techniques to create a visually captivating artwork.
Like the other works in the “Walls of Gaza” series, this piece explores the complex realities of life in the Gaza Strip. Shawa’s use of vibrant colors, bold imagery, and thought-provoking symbolism intertwines fashion and the harsh realities of conflict and occupation. This juxtaposition invites viewers to reflect on the paradoxes and challenges faced by individuals living in such circumstances.
The “Walls of Gaza” series as a whole serves as a powerful testament to Shawa’s artistic vision and her commitment to shedding light on the experiences and resilience of the Palestinian people. Through her unique style and compelling narratives, Shawa continues to make a significant impact on the art scene, not only in Palestine but also on an international scale.
Photo Credits: IMEU
Ayed, a graduate of Al-Quds University, likes working with different mediums — from videos to installation pieces to paintings and murals. He is openly against painting directly on walls as he believes graffiti serves more like a tourist attraction than it does a call to action; ““I won’t touch the wall with colors, it’s an act of normalization or beautification. People come here now as though they are visiting the pyramids in Egypt, like they are visiting a tourist attraction. They see the beauty of graffiti now instead of the suffering” (Al Jazeera).
One of his most prominent collections is called “Dehesheh: My Memory” which is composed of two pieces that reflect the complexities of growing up in a place where you’re deprived of your rights.
“Dehesheh: My Memory” / Photo Credits: Museum of the Palestinian People
Photo Credits: Cultures of Resistance Films
Belal Khaled is a Palestinian graffiti artist and journalist whose artwork reflects the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice. His murals that often incorporate Palestinian struggles are seen both locally and internationally, with displays in the US, UK, France, and other numerous European countries.
Belal actively speaks out about conflicts that he deems important, such as the Syrian crisis and apartheid within the Arab world. He has worked other jobs within his industry, such as his role as a photojournalist where he wanted to discover more of Gaza and share that with the world.
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