Laila Shawa (Palestine, born 1940) Target 2009,

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Lot 87
Laila Shawa
(Palestine, born 1940)
Target 2009,

Sold for £ 6,000 (US$ 7,805) inc. premium
Laila Shawa (Palestine, born 1940)
Target 2009, photographic print on canvas,130.5 x 130.5cm (51 3/8 x 51 3/8in).

Footnotes

  • This work was executed in 2009 and is unique.

    Target 2009 was created as a direct response to the tragically high death toll amongst Gaza’s children due to Israeli military assaults earlier this year. A variation of the iconic Target (1992) from Shawa’s Walls of Gaza I silk screen series, it is also related to Targets (1994) from Walls of Gaza II created after the Oslo Accords. Favoured by the media, the image has since been reproduced countless times internationally. Whereas Targets (1994) illustrates by repetition the escalation of the political situation after the watershed agreements in 1993, Target 2009 refocuses on the individual child shyly lifting his hand and reluctantly signing for peace. Although the work nominally commenced in 1990, almost two decades on its message is poignantly contemporary.

    The first Palestinian artist to incorporate photography in the manner of pop-artists Warhol and Rauschenberg, Shawa first experimented with photography during her informal studies with Hrant Nakasian in the early 1960s but subsequently neglected the medium. She took up the camera again in earnest during the First Intifada when graffiti started appearing illicitly on the walls of Gaza to circumvent the stringently enforced media blackout. “I wanted to show the reality of these walls as political spaces; their immediacy and discursive unity,” she said during an interview recently, “the filters came later.” Indeed, Target epitomizes Shawa’s twin-concerns, the formal reduction of form to fields of colour and the communication of socio-political messages.

    Laila Shawa moves with ease across media from oil and acrylic on canvas, printmaking, sculpture, installation and photography. She has been integral to the Palestinian and Arab art scene since the 1960s, yet few seem to be familiar with the range and volume of her oeuvre. Certainly, among Western collectors, she is best known for her political works. A sizable group of paintings entitled Cities from the late 1960s and 1970, and a large body of sumptuously rendered horses are rated highly by Middle Eastern patrons but rarely come up for sale. Her early feminist paintings are all but lost. Shawa’s intensely colourful sequences Women and the Veil, Hands of Fatima and Women and Magic (1980s and 1990s) solidified her reputation as a major creative force critically engaged with the Arab world.

    Christa Paula
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