Dispersed Crowds By Khaled Hourani


4 MAY - 20 JUNE 2019


The spectacle of crowds in a demonstration, a protest or a march always attracts me. This scene of people gathering to express a cause became familiar not only in Palestinians lives but also in the lives of most of the Arab people more recently. Somehow, the spectacle is a declaration that something is not going so well.

What draws my attention to these acts of protest is the similarity of the looks of people taking to the streets, the similarity of their cries, their demands and the movements of their bodies. Even their silence is the same at a time the flags, slogans, and places look different. What do these crowds have in common?

Individuals dissolve within the crowds, to form a human mass. In those moments, individuality is overridden by unity and agency that is formed in an act of desperation before each individual returns back to his/her isolation and fate. This time, I paint, illustrate and color these crowds in an attempt to capture the thread that makes the connection between all of this on one hand and life and its mechanics on the other. I am inspired by these protests which I take photos for or take part in, and I start questioning what lies between the now and the future, between the individual and the group? Do I want to freeze this moment or that? Do I want to make it eternal by echoing it on canvas? I don’t know as I am inclined to doubt. But I can say that these paintings pause an existential question and reflect the limits of the self.

I don’t want my work to be documentary only, as I witness and participate in these live performances in public spaces. I see myself there and I can see you as well in an event in which the main substance that forms it is people who are suffering from the disruption of the times, places and politics as never happened before. My works are portraits for unknown people but it is also personal. Individuals in the paintings might look like us here in Ramallah or like people in other places like Khartoum.

This exhibition mostly reflects these moments in which people take to the streets in desperation and as a result of losing hope and feeling collectively and mysteriously that change comes from the base not from above, from individuals not from leaders or thinkers.


dispersed crowds
khaled hourani