Occupied Jerusalem

- From a painting bearing the features of an elderly man exhausted by the concerns of the city of Jerusalem and its condition, to an olive tree deeply rooted in its occupied land, then to Bab al-Amud and towards the alleys and alleys of its ancient town, its churches and mosques.

The colors and places varied and the materials changed, but the enamels that painted 280 paintings about Jerusalem over the past 45 years did not deviate from their love for this holy city, and were even unable to paint others.

With his calm smile that the people of the city knew, the Jerusalem plastic artist Shehab Al-Qawasmi received visitors to his art exhibition "A Journey in the Memory of Jerusalem" in the garden of the French Cultural Center, on Salah El-Din Al-Ayyubi Street.

He toured with them among 40 paintings, some of which he used pencils on cardboard and others acrylic colors on canvas.

The paintings, which were painted with bullets, depict the features of the city of Jerusalem 100 years ago, and were collected in a book launched by Shehab in 2016 under the title "Once Upon a Time, Jerusalem a Hundred Years Ago", which included 70 paintings about Jerusalem at the end of the Ottoman era through the British colonial period.

Within the corridors of the French Cultural Center, colorful paintings that harmonized with the heritage of the building were distributed, and the paintings varied about the old city lanes, the beauty of the nature of Jerusalem and the landmarks of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Al-Quds plastic artist Shehab Al-Qawasmi during the opening of his exhibition, which included 40 paintings on Jerusalem and its landmarks (Al-Jazeera)

Al-Aqsa landmarks in 4 languages

In the exhibition, Al-Qawasmi launched his new version of the “Al-Aqsa Lanterns” folder, which contains 124 drawings of the most important features of the mosque, accompanied by an explanation of them in 4 languages: Arabic, English, French and Turkish.

The Jerusalemite artist spoke to Al Jazeera Net about his artistic career, saying that since he discovered his talent for drawing during his childhood, he decided to hire it to serve Jerusalem, so he conveyed and still is the beauty of this stolen city and its authentic history.

He added, "Painting is an art that is understood by all peoples, and it is a tool of struggle against the occupier everywhere. I convey the beauty of the city, but I also document its features to protect it from obliteration and distortion."

Two paintings about women, olives and Al-Aqsa Mosque in the exhibition "A Journey in the Memory of Jerusalem" (Al-Jazeera)

Documentation and installation of the novel

There are many landmarks documented by Risha al-Qawasmi over the decades, but were later subjected to destruction or Judaization and change of landmarks. Hence, this artist sees the importance of continuing to paint on them, so that his works bear witness to the reality of the place and its original story.

The eyes of the visitors of the exhibition shift between dozens of remarkable paintings, and during the tour of Al-Jazeera Net, we repeatedly heard that those who watch them feel as if they are sitting in the places drawn due to the depth of this artist's attention to detail, as some paintings took 70 days to draw and others are more than that.

Jerusalemite Osama Barham in front of a plaque documenting the domes of the Old City of Jerusalem (Al-Jazeera)

The Jerusalemite, Osama Barham, stops at a panel that includes the domes that top the roofs of ancient buildings inside the historic Jerusalem wall. In front of it, he told Al Jazeera Net that Qawasmi's creativity and keenness to master drawing accurate details such as the crescent, cross and small stones fascinate those who see his paintings through social platforms or in exhibitions.

Barham commended this artist's keenness to organize most of his personal exhibitions in the Holy City, saying that any Palestinian event organized in Jerusalem - especially after former US President Donald Trump announced this city as the unified capital of Israel - has special importance and gives young people an incentive to display their achievements in Jerusalem, not outside.

As for the Jerusalem fashion designer, Heba Abu Rmeileh, she stood at length in front of the "Anemone Flower" painting, especially as she started working on a new collection of designs bearing the name of this flower.

She told Al Jazeera Net, "This flower, whose red color was associated with the blood of the martyrs of Palestine, attracted me and reminded me of the martyr Shireen Abu Aqleh, who, after her departure, decided to launch a new collection of designs bearing the name of the anemone, not only because it is the color of blood that flowed from Shireen, but also because it symbolizes the beautiful life that we hope that We live in Jerusalem.

The roads and houses of the city of Jerusalem as documented by the artist Qawasmi in his paintings (Al-Jazeera)

From Jerusalem to the world

Before the Qawasmi paintings are deposited in Palestine, they will move from Jerusalem to the cities of Ramallah and Hebron, and from there to Jordan. Then the exhibition will land in Europe, where it will travel between two Italian cities before its trip ends in the French capital, Paris, next November.

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