This article examines the significance of Zulfa al-Sa‘di’s paintings in the advent of modern art in Palestine. Although her work was largely prompted by the political context of 1930s Palestine, al-Sa‘di also drew from a robust archive of images, newspapers, and texts, recognizing their value as agents of national unity. Her ability to bridge Islamic themes with Christian motifs, historical texts with contemporary media, politics with poetry, painting with photography, and art with nationalism made her work palatable to an Arab intelligentsia who sought to reconcile tradition with modernity. Additionally, this paper will consider the context in which al-Sa‘di’s oeuvres gained traction, most notably the 1933 National Arab Fair in Jerusalem. National fairs represented a pivotal shift in the production, consumption, and exhibition of culture. They not only facilitated the display of Palestinian art, but also informed its content and purpose. The paper demonstrates that al-Sa‘di’s apparently traditional portraits relied on an intrinsically modern system of representation underpinned by the fair’s political agenda. By contextualizing alSa‘di’s portraits and reading them against her cache of historical and contemporary references, this article aims to give a more substantial account of al-Sa‘di, giving back visibility and agency to her life and work and asserting her importance in the history of Palestinian art.
From the BlogsElijah Powelson–November 19, 2020English
From the BlogsElijah Powelson–November 1, 2020English
From our Digital Projects–November 20, 2020Arabic