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Painting on the walls in Gaza


It is nothing new in Gaza seeing lots of words in great lines on any wall you pass it in Gaza. Some of them talk about the political situation, another is talking about the social events. Many of them are talking about whom left their families and died during the last war or previous Israeli military operations in Gaza, with their names and their painting faces.

It is the fast, cheap, easy way to express your opinion and to reach what you want the other Gazans to know freely. Even if it stays for a short time, because anyone else who will do the same on the same wall for another reason and subject, in the next week.

After 2006 many things changed in Gaza. The political situation affected many aspects of Gaza’s life. There is a government in West Bank and another one in Gaza. Most of the people in Gaza became don’t believe in these or those. Nothing is important except how they can get work and have enough money to cover their families needs.

Life became more difficult. You see the sadness and poorness all over Gaza. It is not just because the horrible war, but because of many reasons. The long and the unfair blockade from all sides (sea, air, and all the crossing points).

It is too hard sometimes to realize this strange ability for the Gazans to get over all that has happened to them and their families and continue the life with this fast. What happened in Gaza is hard to forget. And we still feel it In spite of our daily concerns.

But it seems that it inspires a lot of artists to get their feelings out in many ways in Gaza. If you walk in Gaza’s streets you will see every week a new painting wall by group of artists.

Many of them talked about the war. I was impressive of a long one made by 13 artists, girls and boys, all of them students in the Fine Art College in El Aqsa University. They made it on a particular type of white cloth because they couldn’t paint on the damaged wall opposite to the ruins of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

I asked one of the girls called Miysa, an art student at level 2 in the University, “What does this work mean to you?”

She said, “It means that even if they destroy our life in Gaza we will servive and stand up again to get all our rights back.“

I asked another artist who painted a big key and a complete map of all Palestine why she painted these and others that talk about the war.

She said, “I meant it to tell the world that dying in Gaza doesn’t mean we forgot our land and our rights to live freely in our home on our own land.”

Another of the artists is named Mohammed El Haj and he is an art teacher and a specialist in painting walls. I asked him why most of artists in Gaza go to use the walls to paint. He simply said, “It is the cheapest way during this long siege in Gaza. There are no good colors, no material that we use to draw like the cloth and brushes. And if we find them, they are very expensive because they enter Gaza by the tunnels.”

So I found the walls the cheapest and fastest way to expresses my thoughts and feelings and share them with all people around. I will not let the siege or war effect on what I live to do, so I continue to draw my life.

Many of the artists I met come from from different backgrounds and studied English, public policy, economics, engineering, and other fields.

When I asked Ismaiel El Hefni, an architect, why he painted on the wall and not on a smaller canvas to put on exhibition, he said: “Painting on the wall is different, I found it more interesting for me to put it on the wall instead of an exhibition, even if the painting will only stay on the wall for one day. I like to paint on a big space with all this movement around me. You can share it with all the people around. You can share with them what you believe. And if the painting was good and interesting for others it will stay on the wall for a long time. I’m happy to share with another artist from a different field. We exchange ideas and create new techniques to produce good art collectively.”

After the war a lot of local and international organizations supported artists to provide a fun and enjoyable way to deal with the trauma Gazans lived, especially the children. We saw some paintings made by hands and feet of children in beautiful colors.

We can see the beauty in Gaza, even if a large part of it has been destroyed. We will see life next to the rubble.