Palestinian Art at Jaffa Port

24October 2010 Written by: Ayelet Dekel



Opening of Jaffa Salon for Palestinian Art at Jaffa Port/Photo: Ayelet Dekel

I work with artists who are important to me, and who would like to

work with me,” Ahmad Canaan, artist and curator of The Jaffa Salon for

Palestinian Art, said with a smile. Following the success of the first

exhibit in May 2010, the Jaffa Salon opened last night, Saturday,

October 23, 2010, as a permanent gallery.  Displaying the works of

several artists, both established and new, the opening exhibit

revealed a diversity of styles and abundance of creative energy,

presented in the spacious Warehouse 2 at Jaffa Port.

A joint project of curator Canaan, journalist and social activist Amir

Neuman Ahuvia, who is producer and entrepreneur Yair Rothman, the

Jaffa Salon will present Palestinian Art to a wider audience by

bringing the work of artists from different regions to the cultural

hub of Tel Aviv – Jaffa. All the art in the gallery are for sale, with

a portion of the proceeds dedicated to funding future activities at

the Canaan Art Gallery in Tamra. The gallery’s support for Palestinian

artists extends beyond the financial. Canaan maintains an ongoing

dialogue with many artists. “Some,” he said, “do not yet have works

that are ready to exhibit. I encourage them to continue to create. I

hope they will come to the exhibit and be energized. Sometimes you

need a push to create.”

Perhaps a sign of the gallery’s impact can be seen in the work of

Karim Abu Shakra. Abu Shakra, who exhibited two paintings in May,

currently fills an entire wall with his exuberant colors.

The tall ceilings and open space of the warehouse allow a variety of

works to co-exist comfortably – oil paintings, large scale wire

sculptures, acrylics, and ceramics, figurative and abstract.

The artist’s backgrounds are as diverse as their styles. Michael

Halak, studied at the University of Haifa and the Academy of Art in

Florence, participated in the Men in the Sun exhibit (2009) at the

Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, and teaches at the University of


Halak has several paintings in the current exhibit; most prominent are

two large oil portraits in which the downward look of the figure

invites the viewer to reflect on her inner world.

Nada Natour dances with the clay – although involved in art,

collecting traditional embroidery and craft work, objects that are

unfortunately no longer createdvalued as they deserve, she was not

engaged in making art herself until her encounter with Parkinson’s

disease led her to experiment with clay. Today, she says, “This is my

life. I spend 20 hours a day with art.”

One of the pleasures of opening night was the Watar Ensemble with

music from their recently released album Serr. Watar means string in

Arabic and the ensemble of six musicians includes: Wasim Odeh on oud,

Mahran Moreb on qanoun (buzuq 1, 5, 8), Srour Saliba on violin, Hagai

Blitizky on double bass, Fadi Hanna on buzuq and percussion, and Lev

Elman on percussion. Four are graduates of the Jerusalem Academy of

Music and Dance, and their sound reflects a deep connection to

classical Middle Eastern music and the surrounding contemporary music

environment. All ten selections on Serr are original works, composed

and arranged by Mahran Moreb and Wasim Odeh.

Their album notes describe their “joyful exploration” and “constant

search for the secrets harbored by the world of music” – although

serr” means secret, happily the sound of Watar will not remain a

secret for long. The group will soon launch their web site with clips

and performance dates available for more joyful exploration.