Art exhibition of works from inside Gaza to tour the country

Paintings and photographs lauded as ‘authentic view of cultural life’ inside region

An exhibition consisting of photographs and paintings by 11 Palestinian artists based inside Gaza was described by the actor Stephen Rea at its launch last night as an unfiltered glimpse of humanity inside the besieged region.

Windows into Gaza is an art exhibition curated by Irish painter Felim Egan. It will be open to the public at the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery, Dublin, this weekend, before embarking on a six-month tour of the country.

“Our understanding of the conflict in Palestine is filtered through the Western press and the media,” said Rea. “The political process is obscured by hypocrisy and double standards. We know from Northern Ireland – that in a situation that is so entrenched – the way forward can be through a process that is above or outside of politics. Art and culture open us to a world more complex and ambiguous – more human.

“For these artists, finding one’s own voice is a massive achievement in its own right. It’s a step towards liberation. Art is not an ideal. It is what enables us to change – to find the story of the world we actually live in.”

Egan said the exhibition gives “an authentic view of cultural life” inside Gaza. “I think this is an opportunity for us to see into another side of Gaza and to experience the culture and art that is steeped in Gaza history,” he said. “Today, Palestine is known as a place that has been destroyed by loss of land and oppression by the government of Israel – a land where death, murder and the ongoing siege are all too familiar.

“We know the destruction, the suffering, the apartheid, death and war, of Gaza – yet through the resistance and strength of its people, it does remain a place full of aspiration and a deeply rooted culture.”

Palestinian ambassador Ahmed Abdelrazek said the artists involved were “rebelling against their fate”.

“These artists unfortunately couldn’t attend this exhibition,” he said. “They couldn’t leave Gaza to come here – but they are rebelling against their fate. Their work is to show the world their spirit.”