Khader Oshah: The Arab Spring

Khader Oshah’s life story and artistic works intertwine, and they influence one another. Oshah, born in Gaza to a Palestinian family, married a Bedouin woman, and he loves in Israel now, in Rahat a Bedouin town, as an Israeli citizen. This complex existential existence preoccupies him both as a person and as an artist.

The paintings in this exhibition were created between 2010-2012, and they are part of an ongoing series of works – responses to the dramatic, violent events, unprecedented in intensity as well as in scope, that began on 18 December 2010 in Tunisia and continued from there throughout most Arab countries. Oshah followed the development of the events, termed “The Arab Spring” by the media (الربيع العربي in Arabic- “-a- abiah al-arabi), with emotional tension and concern, as an involved spectator with a tri-fold identify. As an Arab by nationality, he experienced the intensity of his people’s protest movement; as an Israeli citizen, he observed what was happening and wondered how the revolution could give birth to such human monsters that abuse their own people in the name of ideology and under the army’s aegis. As a Muslim, he saw how the Koran’s pure “Way of Peace” (Islam)was becoming infected and warped by those preaching in the name of the religion or acting, so they say, in its name, or in that of hegemonic regimes – and in doing so, violate and belittle the religion. Oshah saved the sights of the Arab Spring captured on film, on his personal computer, to be transformed into a concoction of colorful processed images that also are vessels filled with the rage and astonishment, shock and compassion of the artist/human being.

Oshah’s paintings serve as opinionated artistic précis, expressing disgust at the evil that has erupted, which resulted in the blood of “the other” being shed. They correspond with the tradition of historical European painting and featureclusters of profoundly expressive intensely colored or monochrome scenes, the paint applied expressively, in large format and open-composition dynamic intersections. Some of the painted scenes are references to similar visual situations depictured in (Western-Christian) art down through the ages: Michelangelo Buonarotti’s “Pieta” (1499); Rembrandt van Rijn’s ”The Anatomy Lesson” (1632), “The Scream” by Edvard Munch (1893, and others. The quotations create the necessary associative link, connecting present with past – historical images of refugee movement, emigration and displacement familiar to Oshah from old faded and yellowed snapshots of the passive-victimized heritage of his family and people. Sights from the present intersect those from the past, and it is not always clear to the viewer, whether any particular image the artist draws, hasemerged from the stockpile of collective-historical memory, or is based on an Internet file from yesterday or today.

Prof. Haim Maor





The Catalog of Khader Oshah: Arab Spring