Studio Visit with BASHAR ALRHOUB

All images: © Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

Curated by Varia Serova

© Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

Bashar Alhroub was born in Jerusalem, in 1978 and grew up in Hebron. He graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from Al-Najah National University, Palestine in 2001. He was awarded the Ford Foundation fellowship to pursue an MFA, which he completed in 2010 from the Winchester School of Art, the University of Southampton in the UK. In 2012, Alhroub was awarded the first grand prize at the 14th Art Asian Biennial, Bangladesh. Alhroub currently lives and works in Ramallah.

Throughout his career, Alhroub developed a varied, boundary crossing art practice that included numerous media, from sculpture, painting and photography to video and work on paper. His work directly deals with the polemics of a place, questioning its role in humanity and its influence on creativity. Alhroub's narrative is deeply influenced by the socio-political sentiments, as well as his desire to belong to a social and cultural community. More recently, his work began to expand into the research of the self. Using the body as a signifier, his work shows the threatened self-identity through the process of scrutiny and experimentation. The work closely deals with the sentiments of personal vulnerability and existential anxiety, interlinked with such issues as religion, conflict, and identity (de)construction.

Alhroub's artworks were exhibited worldwide at various museums, biennales, and galleries including The American University Museum, Katzen Arts Centre, Washington DC, USA; The Arab World Institute، Paris, France; Art Dubai, Dubai; Abu Dhabi Art, Abu Dhabi, UAE; The Aga Khan Museum, Toronto – Canada; Imperial War Museum, London, UK; Frieze Art Fair, London, UK; Krannert Art Museum, USA; Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem; Gallery One, Ramallah, Palestine; The Institution of Contemporary ICA, London; Gallery Mana, Istanbul, Turkey; Eli and Edythe Broad Museum, USA; 15th,16th, 17th Asian Art Biennale, Bangladesh; The Barjeel Art Foundation, UAE; Bag Art Exhibition, Norway, Museo Del Brigantaggio, Italy; Saison Vidéo, France; Instants Vidéo Festival 24th Marseille, France; Centre for Contemporary Art Laznia, Gdansk, Poland; Green Art Gallery, Dubai; Leaving Space, All Art Now Festival; The 17th International Festival of Video Art of Casablanca, Morocco; The Mosaic Rooms, London; Twin Gallery – Madrid - Spain; the International Human Rights Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Alhroub participated in several international artist residencies, including Art Omi, New York; Matters Factory Museum Residency, Pittsburgh, USA; Delfina Foundation Residency, London; China Printmaking Museum and Goanlan Artist Village Residency, China; Bag Art Camp Residency and Workshop, Bergen, Norway; “Shatna” International Artists Workshop, Jordan; The International Artists Workshop “Braziers”, UK. Alhroub’s work is included in a number of International collections and museums, such as The Imperial War Museum, London; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; China Printmaking Museum-China; Bengal National Gallery, Bangladesh; Birzeit University Museum collection, Palestine; Omi Art Centre, New York; and Michael Abbate collection, New York; Bank of Palestine collection, Palestine; Contemporary Art Platform Kuwait - Kuwait and in many other renowned private collections worldwide, such as Dr. Ramzi Dalloul’s collection and George Al Aama.

Bilad al Urb Awtani (The Arab world is my homeland), 2017- 2018

© Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

"As children, we grew up listening to the song “Bilad al Urb Awtani”. We sang this song and drifted to a dreamlike world where, after taking off from Palestine, we moved to Baghdad then Egypt then Tetouan then Najad and Yemen. This song brought happiness and hope to our hearts. It made us believe that even if Palestine was lost, other countries will become our home. It was a cheerful childish dream, a too good to be truekind of illusion. Too soon, the dream was gone and this big watan (homeland) was shattered into pieces due to politics, wars, sectarianism, and ethnicity. Reality was a proof that this song only entailed an illusion, and it was nothing more than a romantic creation of a romantic poet. The song with its title, “Bilad al Urb Awtani”, became suitable for black sarcasm. This project discusses the dismantling of the classical map of the Arab world and its reconstruction based on a new vision that reflects its fall, fragmentation and the dark future these countries behold as a result of ongoing conflicts and wars. This artwork in an installation that echoes with sarcasm and fantasia."

Falling Angel #3, 2018, 60X80 cm, edition 1 of 10 , 5 AP © Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

makam, 2019, mixed media on paper, 16 artworks, each 21 x 24 cm

© Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

I’m the Crist and Virgin Marry my Mother © Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

War & Desire (2016-2017) by Bashar Alhroub

Alhroub’s works represent metaphorical concepts of violence and eroticism as an aesthetic state. It highlights the complex relation between desire and violence as manly military actions with origins from the history of war, triumph and defeat.

Invasion, 2016, bronze sculpture, 50 x 50 X 50 cm, edition of 3 2 AP

© Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

Missile, 2017, mixed media sculpture (resin, plastic & wood), 80 x 25 X 25 cm, variation of 5 © Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

Mapping Nowhere 2 by Bashar Alhroub

In artist’s own words: “The idea of ​​the project occurred to me after an emergency departure from Paris a day before the complete closure and curfew in March 2020 due to the spread of the Corona virus. I was returning to Palestine via Jordan. This trip was filled with fear, caution and anxiety about arriving and whether or not I carried the virus during my presence in France for the opening of my exhibition in the Paul Valerie Museum. The procedures at the airports and border crossings were as if I was watching a science fiction movie about the end of the world. It was like a one-way journey and that the world was going to end behind me.

In light of these circumstances, the cities that I visited around the world evoked me from east to west and north to south. I recovered the images of their maps especially that i consider myself a person who walks around in travel.

I have always been occupied with maps and political, cultural, urban and economic dimensions in their symbolism in the formation of power.

As a result of what is happening in the world due to the spread of Covid -19 virus, the closure and separation of cities and countries and the limitation of movement, the authorities have become the creators of limited movement maps for people.

The topic is exciting for me to present questions about the concept of states, borders, communication and human freedom of movement to carry out this project.

The project is a single work consisting of 80 pieces for 80 cities, each piece is a map, and these are imaginary mental maps related to the personal experience with these cities.”

Nowhere series (2014) by Bashar Alhroub

As the artist explains very well himself: “This work is an exploration and intensification of the question of the refugee and homeless children. Open spaces, white or golden spaces intensely raising the question of being without a place or homeland or a house. To be a homeless or a refugee for political or economic conditions imposed by war or life. To be a material to media reports topping television or newspapers and interfaces. To be in an alternative fragile place and to live the idea of the temporary, from generation to generation. To be an object and the object is the alternative to your humanity. Here and there are homeless children lost in the whiteness of nowhere.”

Nowhere #14, 2014, gold paint, pencil and white acrylic on canvas, 140 x 140 cm

© Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

Nowhere #02, 2014, gold paint, pencil and white acrylic on canvas, 120 x 90 cm

© Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

My Son’s world by Bashar Alhroub

In artist’s own words:

“They are not just toys ... they are a memory that bears many details.” This is how my son Omar started his talk about my new project.

In the last ten years, I have collected the remnants of my son Omar’s toys, which bring me back to a memory full of details, in which I relive the childhood that I watch today in my son.

Toys have become very popular in my work in recent years. I have become amazed with them and passionate about collecting them. It usually drives me to meditate. Do I recall my childhood or protect my son with it? or is it a mixture of movement and stillness, past and present, childhood and age?

These toys, which I started with in the project of war and desire 2016 -2018, bring me back today to contemplate through a collection of photographs and sculptural work of a world full of details of the relationship between the father and the son and through which I reorganize the relationship between the two parties. In addition to that i collect through them images and what life has come to through innocent toys moving between soft fingers. When you stand where I am you can see yourself or your children as I see them now.”

My son’s World, 2021, mixed media sculpture, 80 x 80 x 80 cm © Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

My Son’s World series, 2021, digital print on photo archival paper, 100 x 100 cm, ed of 3 + 2AP © Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub

Almaqam, 2019, sculpture installation, engineered stone, 36 piece

© Courtesy of Bashar Alhroub