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Sliman Mansour's "Jamal Al-Mahamel"

posted on: Apr 13, 2022

Sliman Mansour's "Jamal Al-Mahamel"
Jamal Al-Mahamel

BY: Sara Alsayed / Arab America Contributing Writer

This article will be a three-part series that discusses three paintings of the revered and respected Palestinian artist Sliman Mansour.

Sliman Mansour's "Jamal Al-Mahamel"
Sliman Mansour

Sliman Mansour is a Palestinian painter and artist. He was born in a village in Ramallah and in a time when the zionist had not occupied and stolen the Palestinian lands. He is considered a great and inspiring figure to all Palestinians and is known as an artist of the Intifada. He perfectly captures the pain and sufferings of the Palestinian people and all the struggle they face due to the occupation. However, he also captures the beauty and courage of the men, women, and children who rise for the cause and stand up to injustice.

Artistry Career

Sliman had lost his father when he was four years old and had moved to Jerusalem with his mother. There, he enrolled in the Bethlehem Academy of Arts and Crafts but dropped out at the age of nineteen because the Israeli occupiers accused him of setting fire to the library – it was later discovered that the source of the fire was a short circuit. He says that he did not gain experience there and was able to enter the art world with his own effort and perseverance.

When Sliman Mansour was 26 years old, he painted “Jamal Al-Mahamel” (Camel of Hardships/ The Carrier of Hardships), which soon became famous. It is a 1973 painting that depicted an old man bent over, and on his back, he was carrying his land (Palestine).
Through this painting, it is clearly shown that no matter what is to become of the Palestinian man or woman. They will always carry the weight of their land.

Sliman Mansour in fact was not confident in how the piece was going to be received. He did not expect the painting to become well known and famous as it is now.

The painting was published and spread by the Palestine Liberation Organization as a poster in 1975 and distributed to homes and public places in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Also, he had mentioned that the original 100 by 70 cm (40 by 28 inch) painting was most likely destroyed by U.S. airstrikes on Tripoli in 1986, attacks which Washington said were conducted in reprisal for the bombing of a Berlin nightclub for which Libya was blamed.

Jamal Al-Mahamel II

Yet Mansour repainted the piece twice. Once in 2005 and the other in 2014; however, with slightly different details. For example, the new version of the “Jerusalem Cemetery Church” can be seen, but the essence is the same: Palestinians carry their homeland wherever they go.

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