Samia Halaby to showcase new work in Venice alongside 25 Palestinian artists

Organised by Palestine Museum US, the exhibition Foreigners in their Homeland will be showing at Palazzo Mora

Samia Halaby will display new work in the exhibition, which aims to address aspects of Palestinian identity. AFP
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A new painting by Samia Halaby will be among the works featured in an exhibition in Venice dedicated to art from Palestine.

Organised by Palestine Museum US, the exhibition will open on Saturday at the Palazzo Mora within the European Cultural Centre. It will run until November 24, coinciding with the Venice Biennale.

The title of the exhibition – Foreigners in their Homeland: Occupation, Apartheid, Genocide – is a response to the biennial's theme Foreigners Everywhere. It aims to underscore the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. The exhibition brings together works by 26 Palestinian artists, two of whom are from Gaza and are currently sheltering in tents in Rafah.

The exhibited works will address various aspects of the Palestinian identity, from the vibrancy of its culture to the struggles of life and the current fight to withstand Israel’s onslaught.

Halaby’s work, for instance, sprawls across more than three metres and has been composed with the dynamic abstraction that the Palestinian artist has become renowned for. While Halaby has shown the painting on her social media, Foreigners in their Homeland marks the first time the work will be officially displayed to the public.

Entitled Massacre of the Innocents in Gaza, the painting brings to attention the continuing war in Gaza, where more than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israel’s brutal onslaught since October 7. With ochre, grey, black, red and pink brushstrokes, the painting is wrought with anxiety as it touches upon the many tragedies rippling across the Palestinian enclave.

“The inclusion of Samia Halaby in this exhibition adds immense value, given her global recognition for her distinctive abstract artistic style and vibrant use of colours,” said Faisal Saleh, executive director of Palestine Museum US and the exhibition’s curator.

While Halaby’s participation in the exhibition is noteworthy, Saleh also adds that each of the exhibiting artists uniquely captures the Palestinian experience.

In Returning, Zeinab Shaath depicts a vibrant, almost dreamy hillside, with an olive tree standing in the foreground and a keffiyeh draped over one of its branches. Portraits by Mohamed Khalil and Khair Alah Salim are, meanwhile, composed with a touch of melancholy and pensiveness – but with widely disparate visual sensibilities.

The harrowing aspects of living under Israeli occupation are also captured, such as in Democracy in Red by Laila Shawa, which was produced using acrylic, paper mache, gauze and nails; and in I'm Still Alive by Maisara Baroud, which features scenes that evidently draw from the events in Gaza. Baroud is among the exhibiting artists who come from the Palestinian enclave.

Foreigners in their Homeland: Occupation, Apartheid, Genocide will be running at the Palazzo Mora from Saturday to November 24

Updated: April 17, 2024, 2:27 PM