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Dalloul Art Foundation

ABDULHAY MUSALLAM ZARARA, Palestine (1933 - 2020)


Abdulhay Musallam Zarara was born in the village of Al Duwayma, west of Hebron, Palestine, in 1933. A self-taught artist, he began painting and sculpting at the age of 39, but was prolific in his...

Written by ZEID EL AMINE

Abdulhay Musallam Zarara was born in the village of Al Duwayma, west of Hebron, Palestine, in 1933. A self-taught artist, he began painting and sculpting at the age of 39, but was prolific in his later years and participated in many exhibitions throughout the Middle East and Europe. His technique utilizes sawdust and glue to create sculptural paintings that portray the historical struggles and traditions of the Palestinian people.

Zarara was five years old when his father passed away, so he and his five sisters were brought up by their mother. Growing up, the artist split his time between school and working the land; his childhood in rural Palestine would later serve as inspiration for his work. During the Nakba of 1948, he escaped a Zionist massacre in Al Duwayma and became a refugee at the age of 15. He fled with his family to Syria, then Amman, where he worked as an electrician for the Jordanian Air Force. In 1967 he returned to Syria and joined the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). When the PLO reorganized its operations following the Black September conflict in 1971, it sent Zarara to Libya, where he joined the Libyan air force. 

During his time in Libya, Zarara saw a magazine cover with the face of an old Palestinian woman and the words “We will not forgive” below it. Recalling how, as a child, he once observed a carpenter mixing sawdust and glue to fill holes in wood, Zarara stuck the image onto a wooden slab and prepared a paste out of sawdust and glue. Lacking any drawing, painting, or sculpting skills, he then laid the paste upon the image and used it to mold the face of the woman. He then applied acrylic and oil paint onto the dry paste to produce distinctive reliefs. Zarara considers this moment the inception of his art practice.

After leaving Libya in the late 1970s, Zarara lived between Lebanon and Syria. Beirut became an essential place for the artist, who, in 1979, met Mustafa El Hallaj during a gathering of Palestinian artists there. This meeting sparked a lifelong friendship, and the artists shared a studio in the Yarmouk refugee camp of Damascus before Zarara settled in his Amman atelier in 1992. During the siege in 1982, Zarara staged an exhibition in the central ruins of downtown Beirut as an act of resistance against Israeli brutality. In 1987, he and Hallaj co-founded The Naji Al Ali Fine Arts Gallery in Damascus.

Zarara’s works recreate scenes of everyday village life from his childhood and accentuate the features of Palestinian costume and embroidery. As the only son in a large family, he was allowed to join in otherwise gendered wedding celebrations where women dressed in traditional garb and chanted folklore songs. These events are visibly entrenched in works such as The Young Women’s Dance (1986), where Zarara cheerfully depicts an ensemble of Palestinian women during a wedding celebration. Their simple faces counter their detailed patterned costumes, which are brought to life with varied shades of red, yellow and, green. The relief is inscribed with a handwritten verse from a popular Palestinian song in the upper background. 

Zarara also draws from his years in exile to make works depicting Israeli slaughters and Palestinian resistance in creative, metaphorical terms. In his 2008 solo exhibition Fannan Wa Kaddiya (An Artist and a Cause), for example, the artist exhibited 23 reliefs in which Israelis are portrayed as monsters and Palestinians as heroes. Women are also exalted in Zarara’s work, often shown morphing into various natural forms, as though part of the Palestinian landscape itself, or as physically larger than men as a challenge to gender inequality. In Al Hayat (Life) (2004),women are likened to trees with branches and leaves instead of hair.

Since 1971, Zarara has produced more than 600 artworks representing the Palestinian cause. In 2014 he was awarded the Mahmoud Darwish Award at Darat Al Funun in Amman, where the artist lived and dreamt of creating a museum to feature artworks symbolizing Palestine and its people until he passed away on August 1st, 2020.


Selected Solo Exhibitions


ريشة و بندقية, Bir Zeit University, Ramallah, occupied Palestine
Tales of Exile, Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE
Retrospective Exhibition, Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE


Dar al-Anda, Amman, Jordan


ذاكرة الأمل, مركز رؤى للفنون, Jordan


فنان و قضية, Amman


Mahfouza’s Olive, Dar Al Anda, Amman,Jordan


Resistance Art, Philadelphia University, Amman, Jordan


Abdul Hay Mosallam, Zara Gallery, Amman, Jordan


Tehran, Iran


Arhus, Denmark


Goteborg, Sweden
Helsinki, Finland


Beirut, Lebanon


Oslo, Norway


Beirut, Lebanon


Tripoli, Libya

Selected Group Exhibitions


Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York, USA


Jean Genet- Act 2 Prisoners of Love, Nottingham Contemporary, England
Retrospective Exhibition, Jordan National Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan


Sentences on the banks and other activities, Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan


Jordanian Artists Association Exhibition, Amman, Jordan


A Salute to Amman, Orfali Gallery, Jordan
Zara Gallery, Amman, Jordan


Made in Palestine, Station Museum, USA


Wings of Palestine, Tripoli, Libya


Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
Dar Al Nimr, Beirut, Lebanon
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
Jordan National Galleries of Fine arts, Amman, Jordan
The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan

إلى أين تشير بوصلة عبد الحي مسلم الفنية؟
Artist Website, Arabic
كتابات عن أعماله
Artist Website, Arabic, 1980
Artist Website, Arabic, English
March Meeting Active Forms
Reem Shadid & others
Sharjah Art Foundation, English, Arabic, 2018

Catalog p.131

Abdul Hay Mosallam, Winner of the Mahmoud Darwish Award 2014- Darat al Funun, English, 2014
The Work of Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara
Ulrich Look, English, 2015
Abdul-Hay Mossalam Zarara raconte les bonheurs festifs de la Palestine
Maya Ghandour, English, 2015
حفل تكريم و معرض للفنان عبد الحي مسلم في دارت الفنون
خالد سامح, Arabic, 2014
Uncompromising and Steadfast in Art and Life: the incomparable Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara
Rachel Corrie/Suzan Klotz, English, 2013
عبد الحي مسلم : تجربة فنية مجبولة بالمرأة و الشعر الغنائي
محمد السمهوري, Arabic, 2014
عبد الحي مسلم ... من الطيران إلى الفن التشكيلي
علي العامري, Arabic, 2014
غابة المبدعين في عجلون و تجاهل قامات عظيمة كالفنان عبد الحي زراره ! و أكثر من سؤال ! بقلم : بكر السباتين, Arabic, 2016
يكرم الفنان عبد الحي مسلم: محترف الرمال ينظم مهرجان ربيع الرمال الأول بمشاركة العديد من الرموز الفنية و الابداعية, Arabic, 2003
الفنان عبد الحي مسلم ينحاز للتراث و ينتصر للتلقائية
رشا عبد الله سلامة, Arabic, 2012
Keeping the Nakba memory alive through art
Mohammad Omran, English, 2015
عبد الحي مسلم ذاكرة القرية الفلسطينية
سامر إسماعيل, Arabic, 2017
تفاصيل الحياة الاجتماعية الفلسطينية في لوحات عبد الحي مسلم
عدنان برية, Arabic, 2006
المقاومة الفلسطينية في معرض لفنان تشكيلي في الأردن
توفيق عابد, Arabic, 2008
عبـد الحي مسـلم : شهادة الفنان إلى جانب الإنسان غـازي انـعـيـم
Ghazi Naim, Arabic, 2008
فنان وقضية) للنحات عبد الحي مسلم فـي رابطة التشكيليين), Arabic, 2008
عبد الحي مسلّم حكواتي الذاكرة الفلسطينية
نوال العلي, Arabic, 2008
«كان يا ما كان «عيد وأعراس
زينب مرعي, Arabic, 2010
لفنان التشكيلي عبد الحي مسلم زرارة الدوايمه
رمضان رجب أبوخضره, Arabic, 2011
معرض استعادي للفنان عبدالحي مسلم في المتحف الوطني غدا, Arabic, 2011
A Retrospective Exhibition by Abdul Hay Mosallam, Arabic, English, 2011
معرض استعادي للفنان عبد الحي مسلم: غزل الصبايا باللون والصبابة
محمد جميل خضر, Arabic, 2011
Sharjah Art Foundation brings together three distinctive new exhibitions
Anna Seaman, English, 2014
«قصص الحياة واتجاهات التصميم حكايات بالألوان في «الشارقة للفنون
وفاء السويدي, Arabic, 2014
Tales of Exile – Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara at Sharjah Art Foundation
FNND, English, 2014
«بينالي الشارقة: بحثاً عن زمن «الممكن
محمد الخضيري, Arabic, 2015
عبد الحي زراره... إرتباط القضية الفلسطينية بالذاكرة و الفن التشكيلي
رنا السالم
alhayat, Arabic, 2015
Abdul Hay Mosallam Zarara, English, 2015
Exclusive to The Middle East Online. . . SHARJAH BIENNIAL 2015
Sylvia Smith, English, 2015
William S. Smith, English, 2017



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