February 21, 2013, 6:02 PM


I was six years old in 1948 when my family fled from our occupied town Almajdal to the Gaza strip, starting our journey of Diaspora. It was then when I began to realize the scale of the tragedy of my people.

After we settled down in the refugee camps in Gaza, I entered school, and at the age of nine appeared my panting talent. It was my grandfather, Haji Abdullah, who helped me discover and develop this gift I have. He used to bring me magazines and colors and would ask me to paint some of the pictures.

My talent grew steadily during my primary and secondary school years. After finishing high school, I studied fine arts in Cairo and received a bachelor's degree in painting in October 1965.

My graduation project was a painting portrait about the forced migration of the Palestinian refugees. It was confiscated, along with seventy oil paintings and hundreds of other sketches, by Israeli occupation forces when they occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967.

The Israeli occupation forces made an exhibition with these paintings for eight years 1967 - 1975 with a commentary in three languages on each of them.  The exhibition was at Haifa High School for Girls in Khan Younis, where the Israeli army was stationed during its occupation of the Gaza Strip. I have repainted these works again, but in a relatively small size.

After graduation I returned to the Gaza Strip and worked as a fine arts teacher at different high schools in Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip. However, because of the Israeli harassment, I resigned from my work as a teacher in November 1977 and went to work in the UAE, where I worked until I retired at the end of 2001. I then returned to Gaza and worked in the studio of the Palestinian Red Crescent. I also worked as a lecturer at Al Aqsa University for five years.

Throughout my working life at home and abroad (1965 – 2001) I have accomplished lots of works and took part in many exhibitions all around the world.  Most of my works concentrate on the suffering of the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation; especially that of the prisoners in the Israeli jails.

My portrait ‘Before Visit’, for example, which is now located at the Jordanian Museum in Amman, reflects the suffering of families of the prisoners in Gaza Central Prison in the early seventies. Two other works of mine "The Prisoner” and ”Waiting” are displayed at the Libyan embassy in London.

My portrait "The Sabra and Shatila Trio" is now displayed in the Museum of Contemporary Arab Art in Sharjah, UAE. It consists of three murals of the size 130 × 400 cm and two murals of the size 130 × 200 cm.

I have used a realistic approach throughout all my works since I believe that it is more capable of expressing the concerns and suffering of the Palestinian people!!


Bashir Sinwar