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After years of exile, Palestinian artist holds exhibition in Ramallah

Palestinian artist Maysoon Bakir visited her homeland with a painting exhibition in Ramallah, 50 years after her parents were displaced from Hefa in 1948

Reuters , Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 Apr 2015
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Maysoon Bakir (photo: Reuters)
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Maysoon Bakir’s exhibit titled Peace and Hope was held at Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah. The display opened Saturday 25 April and ran for three days.

The exhibit brings together 18 pieces, merging realism and abstraction, primarily centering on familial ties, and also showcasing the Palestinian culture, its traditional dress, weddings, and the story of displacement experienced by her family and others.

With her family displaced from Hefa in the Nakba in 1948, Bakir was born in Amman, and lived there until the age of five, when her family was forced to leave Jordan, along with thousands of other Palestinians. She then moved to Iraq where she currently still lives.

In an interview with Reuters Arabic, Bakir said “I never lost hope of going back to Palestine, even though I entered it with an Austrian passport, it is still a dream come true.”

“I decided to bring Palestine something with me when I returned to her, and it is these paintings I offer that tell the story of my people,” she added.

Bakir sees that the Palestinian culture was the pillar supporting a sense of belonging and patriotism among Palestinians, fighting the hopelessness, and inspiring political awareness and true resistance among them.

The artist tries to present the multi-faceted Palestinian case in a single painting titled The Story of a People, which depicts a man sitting thoughtfully with a number of keys hanging on a clothesline before him, while behind him is a jail cell with detainees.

Bakir also chose to present the tolerance on Palestinian lands in a piece depicting men of the three Abrahamic religions in an old city, evoking Jerusalem.

“Palestine welcomed them all and they lived in peace,” she comments on the piece.

Bakir, who wears a traditional Palestinian silk dress, offered explanations for her pieces to audiences at the opening.

Through the exhibit the artist considers her role as a storyteller, recounting her country’s tale to the world.

“I hope my brush has expressed the pain and sadness my people have and continue to experience, and I hope I have given something to my people through my art,” she says.

Highlighting the exhibit is Bakir’s painting of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish surrounded by musical instruments, with a line from one of his famous poems as the title: “On this land, what’s worth living for.”

Bakir set up her first solo exhibition at her house in Amman 1991, and has since held many solo exhibits, including one at the United Nations in 2012 and one at the Ayyam Gallery in London in 2013.

She travelled to Vienna in 1998 where she lived for a period of her life and studied art. In October 2013, Bakir exhibited at Vienna City Hall, where she was the only Palestinian-Arab artist displaying her work among many European artists.

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