In Pursuit of Utopia Nabil Anani


20 JANUARY - 29 APRIL 2021

“Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I’ll never reach it. So what’s the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.”

Edwrad Galeano, Uruguayan writer

In pursuit of utopia, one might never arrive at the destination, although could get close to it. The perfect place keeps running away further ahead like a shadow running from its owner. Utopia might be an impossible imaginary situation that will not necessary materialize fully, yet it stays central to dreaming, since our utopian thinking fuels the pursuit of our dreams that keeps us alive with motives to realize them.  The word utopia comes with a certain criticality as it can voice dissatisfaction with the status quo and/or holds a vision of the future that differs in at least some aspects from the present. It is in this sense that Nabil Anani sees Palestine: a prosperous thriving place free from occupation; a land that takes pride in its nature and parades it jubilantly; a dream worth to pursuit.  

In Pursuit of Utopia, the Palestinian landscape is presented without any disruptions; a perfect manicured landscape, that is well tended. Anani paints the picturesque hills of Palestine without the ever increasing Israeli settlements, bypass roads, roadblocks, walls and watch towers that are normally visible in every corner. He creates the Palestine of his dreams, a utopia inspired by his memories as a child growing up on the hills of Halhoul.

Anani’s work stems from his fascination with the Palestinian landscape and rural life, which are subjects that he has addressed throughout his artistic journey. In this series of work, one can rarely spot a human or their shadow, for the primary focus remains on the aesthetic of the place, giving the audience the chance to ponder and appreciate the scenic terrain.

Olive groves, cypress trees and wheat fields dot the hills and horizon as if embroidered patterns. The canvases are divided with horizontal lines and spaces inspired by the ancient terraces separating the fields, conveying a panoramic perspective and a rural ambiance.

Experimentation with different media and using strong vibrant colors remain methods that distinguish Anani’s style. In this series, he uses mixed natural media, such as straw, spices and herbs that vary in color and texture in addition to dry flowers and plants, resulting in a distinct surfaces and vibrant array of smells.

In this exhibition, Anani chases a utopia that resides in the imagination of all Palestinians whether dispossessed from their lands forcefully, confined in small restricted areas or prevented to access different parts of their homeland. Whether he attempts to capture a moment in the future or protest at the brutal Israeli destruction of the land and the livelihood of its people, Anani offers a vision of a better future; a dream of an ideal Palestine worthy of pursuing.