20 Sep 2023 - 07 Jan 2024

Lasting Impressions: Samia Halaby

Sharjah Art Museum


The Sharjah Art Museum presents Lasting Impressions: Samia Halaby, a Palestinian artist born in Jerusalem in 1936, currently living in New York. This ia a major retrospective of her work and will include 180 works of various sizes and media representing her career through abstract paintings, sculptures, digital works, documentary drawings and more.

With a profound persuasion that future innovation in pictures lies in abstraction, she has remained dedicated to its boundless potential for over six decades. The abstraction she presents has its basis in reality by being an imitation of principles extracted from reality rather than one particular appearance of reality. Continuing her artistic endeavors until the present, she employs visual abstraction to convert what our senses have stored in our memory over a long period of time , “what the viewer and I already know”, into abstract visual form. Through such abstract creations she represent the inherent visual experience that resides within us all – abstract shape, color, light, and movement combine into an art in which the viewer recognizes their own experiences. She does so by employing the extensive knowledge regarding methods and technologies that she avidly studied ranging from methods of using paint to using digital media.

Through her visionary approach to abstract painting, she has gained an impressive reputation, solidifying her standing as a forward-thinking artist. Through her unique artistic style, extensive range of methods, and prolific artistry, she has redefined the notion of abstraction with a remarkable level of precision, ensuring the clarity in her creative process and cementing her position as a visionary abstract painter.

The artist’s interpretation of the exhibition’s title, Lasting Impressions, is that it reflects the wonderful reaction her work elicits in the youths of our time especially among Arab youth whom she admires. She takes note of their talents and high commitments to our future. These discerning viewers perceive her abstraction exactly as she envisions, recognizing in it a reflection of their own pre- existing experience. Her painting “mirrors our shared perception of the world we live in.” as she describes it.

As a Palestinian artist who was born in the city of Jerusalem on December 12, 1936, she experiences the agony of exile and displacement from her homeland 1948. The painful memory of exile enters her painting not as subject matter but often as titles to place in Palestine she loves. She will not mix political history with her exploration of abstraction but she does state that being loyal to abstraction is itself a political art. Palestine as experience is clearly the driving force allowing her to exert great effort to create the documentary series of memorializing the Kafr Qasem Massacre.

Samia Halaby is an internationally recognized artist known for her exceptional talent. Alongside her artistic pursuits, she is a dedicated advocate for Palestinian rights. Remarkably, in spite of her extensive oeuvre and serious writing, things often provoke her sense of humor and playfulness.

The exhibition is part of the Lasting Impressions series, held annually at the Sharjah Art Museum. The aim is to focus on prominent Arab artists who had a prolific career and left a lasting impression on the development and evolution of modern art in the Arab world.

Press release from Sharjah Art Museum

Image: Samia Halaby. Green Flamenco. 1999. Oil on linen. 91.5 x 122 cm. Image courtesy Samia A. Halaby