Hafez Omar is one of seven visual artists that helped to found Al-Mahattah Art Gallery in Ramallah. The dream team of seven started with a vision for a place where artists of all backgrounds and specializations could come together in the name of art. The gallery began a little over a year ago and has since grown into a hub of artistic culture that is slowly but surely educating both Palestinians and those in the surrounding Arab countries about the value of art in civil society. And while Hafez acknowledges that the gallery has been receiving considerable international attention in recent months, he argues that the “focus is not on the quality of Palestinian art and we are fighting strongly against this.” Wanting Palestine to hold a place on the art map of the world, Hafez states that the objective in achieving such a spot is to be recognized for the quality of art and not featured because of the hardship of their circumstances under occupation.
In the short time that Al-Mahattah has been open, Hafez notes “the gallery has made significant contributions to helping Palestinian artist improve their work through workshops, selling their art, and providing exhibitions both locally and abroad.” Moreover, through its public exhibitions it is providing Palestinians with a new and innovative way to both express themselves and to get their message out into the world.
While no one living in the West Bank would likely argue that ending the occupation is a primary priority, many would argue that equally important to ending the occupation is continuing to build civil society. Al-Mahattah is doing just that – it is providing a way for Palestinian society to progress and to communicate to the world the social, economic and political reality on the ground using art as the peaceful medium.
Posted By Rangineh Azimzadeh
Posted Aug 25th, 2009