Unable to obtain a permit to leave Gaza, Mohammed Musallam was prohibited from attending his last solo exhibition, ‘Geography Torn’, in Jerusalem. He recently received a permit to enter Jerusalem for a few hours so that he could attend his visa interview at the US consulate, yet by this time his exhibition had come to a close. It had been 15 years since he had last seen Jerusalem.
The sorrow he felt when he was prevented from going to his exhibition is expressed in ‘Dying Jerusalem’. Employing torn bits of the ‘Al Quds Newspaper’, Palestine’s most renowned and oldest newspaper (which is currently banned in Gaza) echoes his frustration with the current situation- one that prevents communication and enforces punishment on those who simply desire the right to visit other cities within their country.
Born in Gaza in 1974, Mohammed Musallam completed his BA in Painting at the College of Fine Arts, Al Najah University, Nablus. He then obtained a Higher Diploma in Fine Art from Helwan University and Al Aqsa University, Gaza, in 2000. Musallam went on to pursue his MA in Painting from Helwan University, Cairo in 2006 on a scholarship, where he wrote his thesis on the Influence of Modern Art on Contemporary Palestinian Painting. Musallam is currently in the process of writing his PHD through Al Minia University, Egypt, the topic of his thesis focussing on experimentation in contemporary Palestinian painting. He currently lives in Gaza and lectures on Painting and the History of Palestinian Art at the College of Art, Al Aqsa University.
Musallam focuses on portraying a range of humanistic issues, which go beyond the limitations imposed by by ‘time’- a notion which can be limiting, oppressive and persistent simultaneously. Furthermore, he concentrates on conveying the notion of the preservation of humanity despite the harshness of the environment within which we may live.
Through his work, Musallam aims to go beyond intuition and he adds purposeful elements, which may either stand out or become submerged by the larger work.
The freedom that Musallam finds in his artistic expression is so important to him- particularly considering the circumstances and the reality of brutal occupation that people in Gaza have to live under.
Musallam uses various tools, materials and a varied coloured scheme to convey different levels expression. Papers, newspapers and pieces of clothing are often employed. Musallam believes that “fewer words that carry deep meaning are more effective than long text and excessive elaboration”. In his Paintings one may observe single subjects (or objects) without much ornamentation, while his installations and video work maintains simplicity but are equally emotionally charged.
- “Geographic Torn”, Nablus, Gaza, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the French Culture Councils of the French Consulate in Jerusalem, 2013
- Exhibition in the Gallery of La mason de lafontine” Najac, France (2012).
- “Geographic Torn”, Luxembourg Gallery, Paris (2011)
- Ionian Centre for Arts and Culture, Kefalonia Island, Greece (2011).
- Exhibition at the Library of Evry University, Paris (2010).
- The High National Institute for Design, Paris (2010).
- ‘We Miss You’ (Installation), Dera Hotel, French Cultural Centre (2009).
- ‘Presence’ (Travelling Exhibition), French Cultural Council’s (Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Nablus, Bethlehem), (2008).
- ‘The Last Shelter’, Hassan Horany Exhibition and Competition, A.M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, (2008).
- ‘Glimpse’ (Travelling Exhibition)French Cultural Council’s (Gaza, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Nablus, Bethlehem), (2003).
- Ministry of Culture, Gaza, Ramallah (2000).
- ‘Prisoner’, Artist of The Year Competition, A.M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah (2000).