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Kamel Moghanni
Gaza / Palestine
(1943 - )
Kamel Moghanni - The paintings of Kamel Moghanni are concentrated from Palestinian soil. He even paints on a surface of sand taken from the beaches of Gaza.
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Kamel Moghanni

The paintings of Kamel Moghanni are concentrated from Palestinian soil. He even paints on a surface of sand taken from the beaches of Gaza in his own unique technique of preparing canvases using only locally produced and originated materials. When you look at his recent paintings, you can feel the heat and texture of sun-baked earth, warm your face in the glowing hues of orange, golds, and fiery reds and lose yourself in the mystery of the evocative shapes that you find there.

His art is a marriage of contrasts: the abstract and the figurative, the ancient and modern are combined together in a dream-like landscape. On a profound level his work carries an old world iconography. Native Canaanite gods are shaped out of earth and sand. Baal, god of fertility, is represented by the bull and Ishtar, his wife, is goddess of love. Both are original bearers of peace and abundance.

On another level he speaks more directly and graphically of the heritage of his homeland using the symbols of Palestinian folk-culture. A beautiful woman in traditional embroidered dress appears regularly in his work. She is the symbol of Palestine, fertile and yielding. Other popular symbols are the woven basket, the khamsa (hand of protection), the mashribiyya, and the labyrinthine cluster architecture.

"I represent culture in my works to speak to the world of Palestine's rich and ancient heritage," he says. A culture which extends thousands of years and existed long before Israel and yet must be asserted to the world. He believes that in order to look to the future, one must first begin with one's past and understand one's origins.

While his works speak of the ancient and cultural, they also speak ardently of the current political situation. He was arrested by the Israelis in 1965 for his association with the PFLP and for the three years during which he was imprisoned he painted and studied philosophy. He realized then that he wanted to serve his country, and not just a political party, and that he would fight with colours rather than weapons. "A politician lies but an artist must always tell the truth." When he was released, he went to Nablus to begin a career as a professional artist and remained there for the next 28 years. In 1997, he completed some fifty vivid and impassioned works on the subject of the first Intifada. Only three years ago did he return to his native Gaza City where he was born in 1943.

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Added: June 2006
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Kamel Moghanni