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Dalloul Art Foundation

NABIL ANANI, Palestine (1943)


Nabil Anani is a painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in 1943 in Latroun, Palestine. During the Nakba of 1948, he fled with his family to Halhul, a city in the southern West Bank, where he...

Written by WAFA ROZ

Nabil Anani is a painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in 1943 in Latroun, Palestine. During the Nakba of 1948, he fled with his family to Halhul, a city in the southern West Bank, where he completed his early education. He graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1969, and in 1989 earned a master's degree in Islamic Archeology at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. Upon returning to Palestine, he worked as an art teacher at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) at Al Tireh College and the United Nations Training College in Ramallah. Anani co-founded the League of Palestinian Artists in 1973, becoming its director in 1998. In 1994 he was a founding member of the Al-Wasiti Art Center in Jerusalem. Anani taught at Al-Quds University until retiring in 2003, after which point he dedicated much of his time to the League's activities and, in 2006, helped establish the International Academy of Art in Ramallah.

The artist grew up during a critical period in Palestinian history: born during the British Mandate, a childhood shaped by the Nakba and the subsequent Israeli occupation, Anani’s young adulthood occurred in the wake of the Naksa, and his artistic practice matured during the first and second intifadas. Amidst the disappearance of his homeland, he sought comfort in family gatherings and Halhul's hills, vineyards, and old quarters; he also found spiritual relief in the works of his grandfather, Ali Daoud, a Sufi sheikh who presided over the Zawiyah mosque. In Egypt, Anani experienced the 1967 Naksa, also known as the Six-Day War, which led to Israel's further annexation of Palestinian land as well as the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. From early on, Anani worked to form a modern Palestinian national identity with visual narratives rich in folkloric as well as political themes.

Inspired by Palestinian history and visual culture, Anani's work explored themes that promoted national identity through the revival of traditional arts and the expression of collective memory. While in Halhul in 1977, he depicted nostalgic scenes from pastoral and village life. Moving into abstraction, he recreated family porch gatherings against a floral background in In Front of Our House (1986), which features allusions to crucial pieces of Palestinian material culture like embroidery and pottery.

The theme of the motherland has been central to Anani's iconography since his early career. Motherhood I (c. 1976) portrays a mother wearing a red embroidered dress and embracing her child, the trellis of green grapevines in the background framing a black halo around her white veil. Explicitly adopting the colors of the Palestinian flag as one of the many elements of resistance, this work is an allegory of Palestine, the mother, the source of nourishment and shelter for her people. Anani reproduced his paintings as posters that served the Palestinian cause while preserving visual history.

During the First Intifada (1987-1993), Anani, along with artists Sliman Mansour, Vera Tamari, and Tayseer Barakat, established the New Vision Movement as an innovative approach to Palestinian artmaking. They boycotted Israeli products and instead used natural materials from their homeland, simultaneously emphasizing their connection to the Palestinian soil and avoiding the purchase of art supplies from Israel. Anani chose leather as support to stretch, cut, and paint on, and used it to make abstract shapes that he mounted on wood and tinted with henna, tea, and turmeric. Though his practice has since re-incorporated manmade materials, it continues to honor the history and heritage of his native Palestine. In 2007, for example, the artist produced a series of watercolor paintings inspired by early Islamic miniatures. Within geometric shapes, he integrated calligraphic Quranic verses, texts, collaged copies of Ottoman documents, and official seals to critically examine the history of the region.

In his recent works, Anani revisits his most celebrated theme of the Palestinian motherland, expressed literally with images of landscapes and allegorically through the figure of the woman. His work  Palestinian Icon (2010) portrays a large woman in an embroidered dress of vibrant green, red, and pink, carries Jerusalem on her arm, grapes in her hand, and villagers throughout her dress. The embroidery, or Tatreez, that embellishes her clothing is of considerable significance to Palestinian cultural heritage. Traditionally, the colors and patterns indicate the maker's village of origin, and the artisanal form as a whole has come to symbolize Palestinian national pride and cultural continuity in the face of adversity. 

Along with his lifelong friend and colleague Suleiman Mansour, Anani was appointed by the Society of Inash Al Usra, an Al Bireh-based civil society organization, to research Palestinian visual heritage in the 1980s. The two visited several villages to study traditional Tatreez, and these traditional patterns and motifs have held particular significance in Anani's work ever since.

Palestinian Icon (2010) is in conversation with other images by Anani that feature the Palestinian landscape, including fertile olive groves, where vivid greens contrast against white limestone fences and square houses as symbols of national identity and resilience. His scattered strokes of red terrains, violet hills, and pink trees have a post-Impressionistic quality that evokes alternating feelings of restlessness and serenity. Breathing new life into his practice, Anani produced the series Life Before 1948 (2014), which reconstructed the past and visualized a hopeful future by appropriating old family photographs. He painted characters whose strikingly colored outfits contrasted their expressionless faces. The artist also turned more explicitly to political work in Qalandia Checkpoint (2014), where he depicted the brutal restrictions placed on Palestinian mobility at one of Israel's most infamous checkpoints.

Anani lives with his wife in Ramallah, where he continues to produce stirring works that call for national liberation through coded iconography.


Barghūthī Murīd, Sulieman Mleahat, and Martin Mulloy. Nabil Anani: Palestine, Land and People. London: Saqi Books, 2018.

Ankori, Gannit. Palestinian Art. London: Reaktion Books, 2006.

Boullata, Kamal, and John Berger. Palestinian Art: From 1850 to the Present. London: Saqi, 2009.

Mleahat, Suleiman and Martin Mulloy, Nabil Anani, Palestine, Land and People. London: Saqi, 2018.

Makhoul, Bashir and Gordon Hon, The Origins of Palestinian Art, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013.

Nabil ANANI - Art on 56th. Accessed November 16, 2018.

Anani, Nabil. "Palestinian Affairs Magazine - شؤون الفلسطينية." The Palestine Poster Project Archives. November 27, 2014. Accessed November 16, 2018.شؤون-الفلسطينية-137

Azuara, D. Fonseca. "Woman as Motherland: Intersections of Nationalism and Gender in Palestinian Art." - Share Research. Accessed November 16, 2018.

"Creative Palestinian Art: Art Sawa, Dubai - UAE." Accessed November 16, 2018. http://www.contemporarypractic...

Irving, Sarah. "Pre-1948 Palestine Brought to Life in Nabil Anani's Paintings." The Electronic Intifada. February 12, 2017. Accessed November 16, 2018.

"Palestinian Costume, the Intifada and the Gendering of ..." Accessed November 16, 2018.

"Published." Dalit Literature - Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. Accessed November 16, 2018.

Rudeb0x. "In Memory - Palestinian Artists Group Exhibition." In Memory - Palestinian Artists Group Exhibition. January 01, 1970. Accessed November 16, 2018.

"Artwork." Rawabi - Overview. Accessed November 16, 2018.


Selected Solo Exhibitions


In Pursuit Of Utopia, Zawyeh art Gallery, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Art of Memory: Life before 1948,Zawyeh art Gallery, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Spirits of the Land, Art on 56th Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon


Land and People, Open House, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


A State of Mysticism, El Sawy Culture Wheel, Cairo, Egypt


A State of Mysticism, Khalil Al-Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


A Journey into Script, Foyles Gallery, London, UK
 Ink on Paper, Khalil Al-Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Border Rituals, Peace Center, Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine


Khalil Al-Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


People and Chairs, Khalil Al-Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Inspiration from Palestinian folklore, Hakawati Theater, Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine
Leather Compositions, Al-Wasiti Art Centre, Jerusalem and Arts and Crafts Village, Gaza City, Occupied Palestine


Inspiration from the first Intifada, Khalil Al-Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Al-Wasiti Art Center, Jerusalem. Moved in the same year to Arts and Crafts Village, Gaza City, Occupied Palestine
Acrylic Works Inspired by Palestinian Folklore, Hakawati Theater, Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine


Paintings and Ceramics, Gallery 79, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Orthodox Club Hall, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Oil Paintings Collection, Y.W.C.A, Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine

Selected Group Exhibitions


Palestinian Art: Resilience and Inspiration, Zawyeh Gallery, at Alserkal Avenue, Warehouse #44, Alqouz, Dubai, UAE
KEYWORD PALESTINE: II, Middle East Institute, Washington DC, USA


Challenges of Identity, Dar El Nimr, Beirut, Lebanon
Intimate Terrains: Representations of a Disappearing Landscape, The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Occupied Palestine


Jerusalem: 51 Years of Occupation, Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine      
Subcontracted Nations,
A. M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan


Jerusalem Lives, Inaugural exhibition of the Palestinian Museumthe Palestinian Museum Birzeit, Palestine
A Sight of Disjunction, organized by A. M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF), Manjam – Haifa Culture Lab, Haifa, Occupied Palestine


Our Homeland is Our Homeland, Yaser Arafat Museum, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Rendezvous, Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Masters of Palestinian Art, season I, International Art Colony, Budapest, Hungary
Unlike other springs, Birzeit University museum, Birzeit, Occupied Palestine
The Identity of the Palestinian Artist: Between Tradition, Culture, Modernization and Globalization, Umm El Fahem Gallery, Occupied Palestine
Winter Collective, Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Narratives, Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


In Memory, Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Colors of life, Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
The Spring Group Exhibition, Gallery One, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


Art Palestine: Nabil Anani, Sliman Mansour, Tayseer Barakat,Meem Gallery, Dubai, UAE
Framed - UnframedThe Changing Representation of Women in Palestinian Visual
Arts, Ethnographic & Art Museum, Birzeit University, Occupied Palestine


Palestinian Art Exhibition in the occasion of the celebrations of Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture, UNESCO in Beirut, Lebanon


Palestinian Art Exhibition, Geneva, Switzerland
Artists from Palestine, Gallery Four Walls, Amman, Jordan
Palestinian Art Exhibition, UNISEF, Beirut, Lebanon.


The colors of Life and Freedom, Palestinian Artists, UNESCO, Paris.


Palestinian Art Exhibition, Palestinian Artists, JALA Exhibition Hall, Tokyo, Japan


Alexandria Biennale, International Exhibition, Alexandria, Egypt


Palestinian Art Exhibition, Palestinian Artists, JALA Exhibition Hall, Tokyo, Japan
Al-Sharjah Biennale, International Artists, Sharjah,  UAE
Palestinian Art Exhibition, The League of Tunisian Artists, Tunisia


Palestinian Art Exhibition, Bissan Gallery, Qatar   
Journey through the Contemporary Arts of the Arab World, Bilad al Sham, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan


Palestinian Artists, Dramen Museum, Dramen, Norway
The Artists of the Occupied Lands, Jordanian National Museum, Amman, Jordan


Artistes Palestiniens Contemporains, as a part of The Palestinian Spring, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris and various locations in France


New Vision Group, with Vera tamari, Suleiman Mansour and Tayseer Barakat, several exhibitions in Salerno, Italy; Amman, Jordan & AL- Hakawati Theater, Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine


Palestinian Subordination Day, United Nation headquarters, New York, USA.
It’s Possible, Palestinian & Israeli Artists, National Museum, Washington, USA


Seven Palestinian artists: Suleiman Mansour, Tayseer Barakat, Nabil Anani, Khalil Rabah, Jawad al Mahli, Yacoub al Kurd, and Vera Tamari, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan


Palestinian Art Exhibition, Red Crescent, Montréal, Canada.
Palestinian Art Exhibition, Parliament hall, Madrid, Spain
Palestinian Art Exhibition, Tunis, Tunisia
6X2 Exhibition, Geneva; Italy


Palestinian Art Festival, Moscow, Russia
Palestine Week Exhibition, Hebron University, Occupied Palestine
New Vision Group, with Vera tamari, Suleiman Mansour and Tayseer Barakat, several exhibitions in Italy (Salerno), Jordan (Amman) & AL- Hakawati Theater (Jerusalem)


Palestinian Art Festival, Moscow, Russia
 Kuwait Exhibition, part of ‘Jerusalem Day’, Kuwait


12 Local Exhibitions, Local Palestinian Artists, through the League of Palestinian Artists, Moved between several Palestinian Cities, Occupied Palestine


Karama Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon


Gaza Exhibition, Gaza, Occupied Palestine
Palestine Exhibition in Moscow, Moscow, Russia


International Exhibition for Palestine Beirut Arab University, Beirut, Lebanon; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France


12 Local Exhibitions, Local Palestinian Artists, through the League of Palestinian Artists, Moved between several Palestinian Cities, Occupied Palestine
Palestinian Art Exhibition(moved between 8 States), USA


Palestinian Art Exhibition, Tetra Shell Castle Ship, London, UK



A. M. Qattan Foundation (AMQF) honored the New Vision Collective, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine


King Abdullah of Jordan Award in Fine Arts for the Middle East       


The first Palestinian National Prize for Visual Art

Commissioned Works on Building Memorials in Palestine


Sculptures of a Palestinian family, Rawabi city, North of Ramallah, Palestine


Statue of Liberty, Ramallah, Palestine.


Metal memorial statue, Kaukab Abu al-Hija park, Galilee


Mural, Faculty of Educational Sciences and the College of Women's Society, Ramallah, Palestine


Statue of aluminum, in collaboration with Suleiman Mansour, Ina’sh Ak Usra Family Association building, Ramallah, Palestine


The Birzeit University collection, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Occupied Palestine
Um Al Fahem Museum, Um Al Fahem, Occupied Palestine
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
Dar El Nimr, Beirut, Lebanon
Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar
Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
The Agha Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada
The Birzeit University collection, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut, Lebanon
Dar El Nimr, Beirut, Lebanon
Guggenheim, New York, USA

Symbols in Traditional and Contemporary Palestinian Art
Kamal Zeidan
An Najah University, English, 2013
In the Shadows of Contemporary Palestinian Art
Yazid Anani
This week in Palestine, English, 2013
palestinian journeys | palestinian visual arts (iii) Explorers(1965-1995)
Kamal Boullata
Kamal Boullata’s entry ”Art” in Philip Mattar, ed. The Encyclopedia of the Palestinians (New York: Facts on File, 2005)., English, 2005
Art under the Gun: Symbols and the Role of “The Old Key” in Contemporary Palestinian Art
Neda Zoghi and Mohd Roslan Mohd Nor
Research Gate, English, 2018
Along the Path 150 Years of Palestinian Art
George Al Ama and Nada Atrash
This week in Palestine, English, 2015
تخليد الذاكرة الفلسطينية
Nabil Anani
Jadaliya, Arabic, 2016
في لوحات الفلسطيني نبيل العناني حقول الزيتون والشخص الوحيد يستدعي أشباهه
Basma Sheikho
Al Quds, Arabic, 2014
نبيل عناني .. أعمال كاشفة تذكر، تقاوم، تحرس الوعي، وتحلم!
Nassar Ibrahim
Ammon news, Arabic, 2017
17 lost art exhibitions
Palestine Museum
يتسلم جائزة الملك عبدالله الثاني غدا * نبيل عنانـي: الجائزة تساعد في رفع الحصار عن التشكيل الفلسطيني
Mahmoud Mounir
Addustour, Arabic, 2006
We are in Palestine, Habibi, and Palestine is Heaven
Vijay Prashad
Dissident voice, 2020
Nabil Anani Palestine, Land and People
Suleiman Meahat
This week in Palestine, English
The Palestine of Nabil Anani: Colorful, but not Happy
Middle East revised, English, 2014
لفنان التشكيلي الفلسطيني نبيل عناني: الفن مرتبط جذرياً ببيئته
Radi Shehada
Palestine studies, Arabic, 2020
Nabil Anani: Palestine, Land and People
Ramona Wadi
Middle east monitor, English, 2018
نبيل عناني من صمت الأيقونة إلى حقول الزيتون
Farouk Youssef
Al Arab, Arabic, 2019
«الخروج إلى النور» عبر مذكرات نبيل عناني
A. Awsat, Arabic, 2019
نبيل العناني.. بيكاسو فلسطين, Arabic, 2018
Corinne Martin
Selections magazine, English, 2018
"الخروج إلى النور" .. حكايات نادرة من سيرة الفنان نبيل عناني
Youssef Al Shayeb
Al Ayam, Arabic, 2019
المقابلة: نبيل عناني - مجلة رمان الثقافية
Aws Yakoub
Romman Mag, Arabic, 2017
Selections art, English, 2020
A Comprehensive Introduction to Palestinian Art on Show at the Umm al-Fahm Gallery
Galia Yahav
Haaretz, English, 2016
Our Homeland is Our Homeland
Yasser Arafat Museum, 2016
الفن التشكيلي الفلسطيني في السياق العالمي".. ندوة جمعت ستة من رواد الفن التشكيلي في فلسطين
Al watan Voice, Arabic, 2016
اختتام المنتجع الدولي للفنون بمشاركة 7 من رواد الفن التشكيلي الفلسطيني
Colonyart, Arabic, 2016
Roundtable Discussion الفن التشكيلي الفلسطيني في السياق العالمي
Colonyart, Arabic, 2016
A Sight of Disjunction
Manjm Haifa Culture Lab, English
Art Exhibitions Engage in Palestinian “Existential Contest
Eleni Zaras, English, 2020
الرسام عناني يفتتح معرضه في أروقة منزله
Nawa, Arabic, 2012
اللواء: معرض الفنان نبيل عناني... فلسطين الأم تسكن اللوحات, Arabic, 2013
نبيل عناني: زيتون وأيقونات فلسطينية
Hussein Ben Hamzah
Al Akhbar, Arabic, 2013
Palestinian Art Proclaims a People’s Identity in the Conflict With Israel
Salah Bisar, English, 2021


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