Ali Shawwa is a brilliant Palestinian artist. Growing up between Kuwait and the mediterranean island of Cyprus, Palestine remains a significant part of his identity. His art reflects his multi-cultural being and his unique style enlightens imagination through the mediums of painting and sculpting.
I feel my artwork absorbs the gravity of certain ideas, thoughts, influences, questions, and becomes a platform to provoke and engage the viewer.
At a young age, Shawwa always loved to paint and draw.
When I was 15 I began exploring art, but never imagined I would nurture it. I went to university in the US and studied Environmental Design and Urban Planning only taking art electives.
Shawwa does not implement a specific artist in his personal style, but he does admire many artists and their talents. Painters like, Jackson Pollock, who was well known for his unique drip painting style and freedom of expression to Georgia O’Keefe, with her penchant for flowers.
Art Calling Ali…
Throughout his corporate career, he continued to hone his creative voice, taking fine art courses to developing his hobby. It evolved slowly and in 2014 Shawwa attended an Art Auction by Emergeast in Dubai, a company that focuses on emerging artists in the Middle East.
They took interest in my work and gave me the confidence to build on it further.
Spotlight On Techniques
Shawwa loves layering as a process. Using textures, contrasting colours and using hints of metallic paint to yield an interesting reflective element. He likes to test himself with different ways to produce art.
I enjoy painting on linen because it challenges me. Once the paint touches the linen you cannot fix it.
A few years ago Shawwa investigated ceramics with a Cypriot master potter named Valentinos Charalambous.
I loved his philosophy because he never pointed out my mistakes until the end, he wanted me to continue and then later would tell me what I needed to tweak.
Since Shawwa was 15 he has been evolving the theme of gossiping and made many attempts to recognize the integral role it has played in cultural human connection. From watercolours, acrylic and ‘quick sand’ process, to ceramic sculptures glazed with Cypriote minerals, the series has continued its connect with nature.
Gossiping has always fascinated me and I have read a lot about the theories behind this global trait.
The series reflect Middle East characteristics, from the sand dunes, abayas, and Arabic coffee cups.
A citizen of the world, Palestinian empowerment nevertheless runs through Shawwa’s art, in particular with a piece called ‘Lily of the Field’ which relates to all refugees.
Although the ‘lily’ is the national flower of Palestine, the piece is meant as a symbol of freedom for all people who have been displaced.
The concept behind this piece came at a time when Shawwa decided on a fresh new career path, embracing the universal themes of making choices and change.
I feature the Phoenix bird because it represents ‘rebirth’. The portrait is of someone reflecting in the distance with the two birds representing the sub-conscious talking to each other.
Patience Is A Virtue
Shawwa also works with his family publishing company, Rimal Books and often juggles many projects. “The good thing is that I work on my own time and this allows me to focus on developing my art.” He works on several pieces simultaneously to ensure momentum. “By taking breaks I can reflect more deeply on what I’m creating.”
Art In Progress
Since being involved professionally, he has witnessed a sea of change in terms of the UAE as a hub for Art and Visual media.
The authorities here have done a fantastic job initiating so many different foundations in the arts. The nation has gained world recognition and a real buzz internationally. There is so much happening here – and its great to be apart of it.
Like many Palestinians from the diaspora, memories of his ancestral homeland are often connected with food.
I love all the typical Levantine dishes, but my absolute favourite dish like Kousa Warek and Kubbeh, but my absolute favourite dish is ‘machboos’, which is actually a Kuwaiti dish. It’s delicious with rice, caramelized onions, saffron and raisins, topped with meat and tomatoes sauce. My mom adds a Gazan twist to it with of loads of chilli in the sauce.
In whatever part of the world he finds himself in, Ali considers the great outdoors as his ultimate chill out location and fuel for inspiration.
I love to jump in my car and drive to deserted areas. I listen to music and reflect, sometimes camping out under the stars. My artistic expression and my life are richer because of my deep connection to nature.
2018 SOLO EXHIBITION | CHEZ CHARLES AT D3 (DUBAI ART WEEK) | DUBAI, UAE
2017 ABWAB | DUBAI DESIGN WEEK | DUBAI, UAE
2017 LEBMASH BENEFIT AUCTION | PADDLE8 GALLERY | NEW YORK, USA
2017 RISE (EMAAR) SOLO EXHIBITION | DUBAI CREEK HARBOUR | UAE
2016 ‘AUCTION III: SHIFTING FORWARD’ | EMERGEAST | DUBAI, UAE
2015 ‘AUCTION 2.0’ | EMERGEAST | DUBAI, UAE
2015 ART SAWA GALLERY [NOV.6] | DUBAI, UAE
2015 ‘LIKE’, EMERGEAST EXHIBITION | ARTSPACE | LONDON, UK
2015 FEATURED IN SUKOON MAGAZINE V3.ISS1
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Tanya knew that Palestine was her symbolic homeland. Always curious about her identity and connecting with her roots, she was eager to strengthen her ties to the Levant and traveled the region, desperate to learn more. It wasn’t until her first trip to Palestine that she became spiritually and emotionally connected.
She studied Political Science and Sociology at the University of Toronto. She then moved to the UAE, supporting numerous NGOs related to children’s welfare in the region. When she had her own family, she created the My Olive Roots platform in the hopes that her children and the Arabs diaspora would have a place to connect, learn and preserve their roots. Tanya enjoys discovering humanist stories and exploring the connection of food and art with culture.