Published by Charta Publishing, Italy
Edited by Nira Itzhaki, Chelouche Gallery
Asim Abu Shaqra, the gifted young Israeli-Palestinian painter who died at the age of twenty-eight (1961-1990), has left behind a statement that is as lucid, self-contained, and authentic as it is splendidly and poignantly beautiful. The comprehensive book of Asim Abu Shaqra, published by the prestigious Charta Publishing, Italy, includes 200 pages with 115 colored illustrations. It provides the space for new interpretations on his paintings by three eminent art scholars: Tal Ben-Zvi, Kamal Boullata, and W. J. T. Mitchell, and includes an introduction by the editor Nira Itzhaki and a moving preface by Anton Shammas. (Language: English).
Asim Abu Shaqra, one of the very few Palestinian artists who have entered the canon of Israeli art, was born in Umm el-Fahm. His decision to move to Tel Aviv at the age of eighteen in order to study painting was perceived in his social milieu as bold and revolutionary. Yet throughout the entire course of his professional life—which was as intensive as it was brief—he was haunted by a sense of foreignness and unbelonging. Abu Shaqra lived with a dialectical identity of contradiction and conflict between his Arab and Israeli affiliations, between his family tradition and his connection with contemporary art. All these tensions stirred in him a constant restlessness and found expression in his art. Abu Shaqra, working at a historical period from the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987 to the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, produced works that echo beyond his own personal struggles and Israeli art discourse of the time. His passionate response to a given Israeli aesthetic convention moved the articulation of Palestinian dispossession to new grounds.
“Someone had to move the sabbar, the cactus, to a flowerpot.” is how Anton Shammas opens his wonderful preface to this book. This action of the frequent rendering of the cactus emphasizes, not the rootedness of the plant, but the rather the uprootedness and displacement, and this is the task that Asim Abu Shaqra, has performed over and over again in his paintings, in a kind of obsession arrested only by his untimely death.
Asim Abu Shaqra was born in Umm el-Fahm on November 11, 1961 to a Muslim family as the seventh out of ten children. At the age of eighteen he moved to Tel-Aviv, studied at Kalisher-The Tel Aviv School of Art, and subsequently taught there as well. On April 5, 1990 Asim Abu Shaqra died from severe illness at the young age of twenty-eight. Asim Abu Shaqra has had solo exhibitions at Rap Gallery, Tel Aviv (1988, 1989), Cabri Gallery, Kibbutz Cabri (1990), Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1991), Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv (1994), and at Chelouche Gallery for Contemporary Art (2013), and also participated in numerous group exhibitions in Israel and abroad. His works are in important collections at the Tel Aviv Museum, Israel Museum, Jonathan Kolber Collection.