Shehab x bitnifty
Jerusalem has endured countless scars over the millennia, but its beauty has endlessly continued its triumph. How it has maintained its remarkable nature is a miracle worth contemplating; that it still stands and shines proves that it is eternal. Beheld by billions that have visited, Jerusalem’s beauty has only been fully appreciated by those that have seen it themselves. Never had its true essence been contained in an artwork until Shehab Kawasmi set out to capture it with acrylic.
A Palestinian native, Shehab has been drawing since he was in school in the early 70’s. Since a young age, his talent set him apart and won him 3 years of art contests in middle school. He’d become so talented that when he entered his first art class in high school, his teacher said he didn’t need teaching. He was sent to an art institute where he finished a two year program before finishing high school, and he’s been an artist ever since.
Shehab would see the baker, garbageman, and the teacher all serving, and often wondered how he could contribute. He found his purpose in the beauty of the city he breathed in everyday. There was no escaping its ancient splendor, but portraying it to perfection is a challenge very few could live up to. He realized he was uniquely suited to capture, commemorate and communicate the beauty in Jerusalem. Shehab said, in Arabic, “Art needs no translation.” So began the journey he has been on for over 40 years.
“Art needs no translation.”
In 2016, the King of Jordan sponsored a book by Shehab containing 70 artworks that recreated Jerusalem in black and white as it was 100 years ago. This book was given to all the Arab world leaders that attended the March 2017 Arab League Summit in Jordan. In those days, it would take Shehab months to create his drawings and paintings, then weeks. Now, Shehab spends at least 8 hours a day creating artwork and can finish a piece in a couple of days. His current target is to finish 30 more paintings by the end of the year for his next book, focusing on the ancient artifacts in Jerusalem. It will have a total of 120 paintings and is being translated into multiple languages.
Looking at Shehab’s work, one can begin to overlook the pain that exists beneath the surface and miss the trees for the forest. The struggle he has experienced since birth as a Palestinian is one of endless sorrow and oppression, and yet his attitude and his artwork choose to focus on the beauty. Despite having his land taken away from him, friends and family tortured and killed, and cast down as a second class citizen, Shehab’s smile never falters just like the beauty of the city he paints.
The pinnacle of Jerusalem’s beauty is considered by many to be the Dome of the Rock, the gold-capped jewel at the city’s heart. Shehab visits it everyday for his morning prayer, but the mosque unique enough to be celebrated by all cultures. Seen as the city’s single most distinguishing feature, the Dome of the Rock is what many present as the emblem of Jerusalem. bitnifty is honored to bring you three pieces that showcase its beauty in a way only Shehab could.
The collection is titled Beauty’s Triumph.
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