Model Role Details

Asem Abu Shaqra

Sector : Cultural Figures , Artists

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : Palestine
  • Gender : Male
  • Born in : 1960
  • Age : 55
  • Curriculum vitae :


Asem Abu Shaqra Abu Shaqra (1960-1990) was Born in the Galilee in the town of Um El Fahim. He had a short but brilliant artistic career. He lived and worked in Tel Aviv in poor financial conditions, pushing him to execute his works with oil on paper (instead of canvas). His talent was soon recognized, and he was able to obtain a teaching position at his alma mater the Israeli Kalisher Academy, exhibit at important Israeli venues, and win important Israeli art awards. His works sold very well after his death, acquired by Israeli collectors as well as art institutions. The Tel Aviv Museum held a major posthumous retrospective exhibit of his works in 1990. The Sakakini held an exhibit of his works in 1999.


Achievements and Awards

His work: Besides obvious talent, his success owed much to the leitmotif of Abu Shaqra' s works: The potted cactus. It was hijacked by some prominent Israeli critics as signifying Abu Shaqra' s variations on the Israeli Sabra (the Hebrew word for cactus, referring to Israelis born in Palestine). Other critics reduced Abu Shaqra's thorny cacti to a mere reflection of the pain of the cancer that was eating him away. The original Palestinian specificity of the symbol of the cactus (Sabbar) and its emblematic national connotations were expressly denied. It makes sense that for Abu Shaqra -a young man of rural Galillean background- the cactus would be fraught with symbolism, especially after his transplant to Tel Aviv, where he lived close to the ruins of Arab buildings destroyed in 1948. We can also see that with the progress of his illness, the depiction of the potted cactus became more stark and tortured, as a joining of the three traits in Abu Shaqra's life: His Palestinian identity, his foreignness in Israel, and the progress of his disease. Further, it is sad to note that while he had refused to participate in an Israeli 40th anniversary art exhibit.

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