December 12 – December 31, 2015
Taqi Sabateen’s first solo exhibition Holy Land (Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah, 12 – 31 December 2015), provides a unique and very important perspective on the current state of the Palestinian countryside and environment. The collection of 25 new works is largely a celebratory body of work and is testimony to the beautiful and extremely varied nature of the Palestinian landscape.
The stone terraces, vineyards and olive groves peppered with almond and apricot blossom; juxtaposed with the rugged terrain of the Hebron hills and the Jordan valley – simply and brilliantly captured by Sabateen – make Palestine a truly remarkable piece of land. His realist style and the rawness of his method offer a harmonious, balanced and timeless feel to many of his paintings.
Sabateen’s desire to study and practice art has stemmed from his relationship with the land of his ancestors. His birthplace of Husan and nearby Battir are part of a phenomenal tract of land that is considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site which is at risk. His work is a solid addition to the well established genre of Palestinian landscape painting. While many young Palestinian artists have diversified in styles and techniques, Sabateen’s current work – personified by delicate strokes and near perfect depictions – provides a timely reminder that landscape painting practiced well has a profound place in the ever increasing catalogue of modern Palestinian art.
While Holy Land is primarily a celebration of Palestine’s beauty, a number of Sabateen’s paintings also illustrate the tragic and abhorrent destruction of its unique topography. The incessant construction of settler colonies, the separation wall and bypass roads underpin Israel’s expansionist colonial project. What is particularly damning is that much of the damage is irreversible and nearly 50 years of occupation has meant the tragic loss of Palestinian people’s lives and livelihoods, coupled with the destruction of their land and environment. Historically, Palestinian villages have seamlessly nestled into the countryside, often hidden in olive groves and vineyards. Today, much of the West Bank hills have been permanently scarred and taken over by alien structures to accommodate Jewish settlers.
Holy Land is a very important pictorial testimony to the splendor of the Palestinian countryside and the colossal damage that has been caused by the occupation and Israel’s macabre colonial project.