Two Cities: Paintings from Jerusalem and Ramallah | 13-02-2014
Opening: Thursday, 13 February at 6:00 pm, Al-Ma'mal
14 February-13 March 2014
Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 15:00
Exhibition in association with John Martin Gallery, London, A.M.Qattan Foundation, Ramallah and The British Council
This exhibition started life simply as a painting trip to Jerusalem last January and there was little anticipation of how the project might unfold. Gifford had long wanted to paint the city but was acutely aware how over-familiar it had become through centuries of western travel and Biblical paintings. This is a landscape that continues to evoke profound emotions in its inhabitants, visitors and exiles, but could anything fresh and relevant be brought to a contemporary depiction of the city? Taking his painting beyond Jerusalem provided a different perspective and opened many more possibilities. Working in Jerusalem, Ramallah and the outlying towns separated by the dividing wall, the presence of a landscape painter working at an easel generated fascination, encouragement and hospitality, especially from younger kids who took it on themselves to protect, feed and guide Andrew around the cities. The relevance of landscape painting and the fascination a view can still elicit in new audiences is demonstrated nowhere more clearly than in an area where the landscape is so precious to people's lives, their pride and their heritage.
The kind invitation of a residency at the A.M Qattan Foundation in Ramallah proved to be a significant turning point in the formation of the ideas behind the exhibition and it was during this stay that Andrew realised the importance of exhibiting the finished paintings in the two cities. This stage of the exhibition could never have happened without the support of the Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem and the A.M Qattan Foundation in Ramallah, and our special thanks to Jack Persekian and Omar Al-Qattan for allowing this to happen. We would also like to express our gratitude to Jumana Emil Abboud at Al-Ma'mal, to Ziad Khalaf, Mahmoud Abu Hashhash, Nisreen Naffa at the A.M Qattan Foundation; to Dr Tina Sherwell at The International Academy of Art Palestine, where Andrew briefly taught, and to Andrea Rose, Catherine Jay, Alan Smart, Suha Khufash, Razan Kaloti, Alaa' Ma'aytah and Edward Soumakian at the British Council. Thanks also to Salma Tuqan for all her advice, to Judy Fladmark for her directions and a special thanks to the owners of paintings for their loans. Finally, I am enormously grateful to Kevin Connolly, the BBC's Middle East Correspondent, who was hugely encouraging from the outset and whose introduction steers those unfamiliar with the terrain through its history and politics to describe the enduring relevance of painting today.