KHALIL HALABY, Palestine (1889 - 1964)
Born in 1889 in Jerusalem, Palestine, Khalil Halaby was a pioneer painter who played a significant role in the inception of modern Palestinian art. He began his career as an iconographer and later shifted from religious to secular painting. Icon painting was the dominant form of applied art at the time. Derived from the Byzantine tradition, It was practiced in Palestine as early as the eighteenth century. As an iconographer, Halaby was associated with the Jerusalem school and was trained by members of the Orthodox Church who were long trained by Greek monks. Their style was nurtured by the works of Russian iconographers who settled in the country.
Halaby and his contemporaries strayed away from the traditional Byzantine traditions and adopted a naturalized style that is relevant to the area. For instance, they replaced western features portrayed in saints by middle eastern ones. Upon the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the steady influx of western artists, Europeans introduced easel painting to Palestine. Soon Halaby adopted the new means of representation and transformed as he explored new materials and techniques. He added a new secular genre, painting mainly landscapes of his hometown. Halaby based his works on photographs and postcards. He aimed to achieve realistic depictions with the effect of depth and perspective as a variation from the flat iconographic style he was trained in. Halaby trained many promising artists, one of whom was the renowned Kamal Boullata. Khalil Halaby passed away in 1964, in Palestine.
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