“Four Master Artists from Bilad al-Sham” – May 2019


Etel Adnan, Marwan Kassab Bachi, Samia Halaby, and Mona Saudi


Birzeit University Museum (BZU)


The exhibition celebrates the works of four artists from Bilad al-Sham from the university’s collections, as a cry of defiance in the face of parochial currents. While the artists reflect divergent and independent schools of thought and artistic identities, yet they are united by a collective sensibility informed by life in exile, similar to many of the Arab world’s artists and intellectuals.

Samia Halaby, a Palestinian pioneer of abstract art in the Arab world and scholar of Palestinian art, sees that new approaches to painting can redirect ways of seeing and thinking not only in terms of aesthetics but also as contributions to technological and social advancement. Her drawings of the Kufur Kassem massacre were gifted to BZU.

Marwan Kassab Bachi, a Syrian artist known as “Marwan,” Kassab Bachi’s work is among the most prominent in German expressionism. He addresses humanitarian issues by focusing on the enduring human face, which can transform into rocky and earthen scenes of nature or into a structural culmination of colours and hues.

Etel Adnan, a Lebanese-Syrian poet, playwright, and artist, crosses disciplines in drawing, film, painting and ceramics. Her vibrantly coloured, abstracted renditions of mountains, ocean, and sky have become iconic.

Mona Saudi is a Jordanian-Palestinian sculptor, publisher, and activist. Saudi is widely recognized for her stone sculptures which explore the relationship between natural materials and modern forms. She has also used the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis and others in drawings/prints and sculptural interpretations.