Ismail Shammout and Tamam El-Akhal: Lasting Impressions

Sharjah Art Museum
24 October – 15 December 2018

The latest exhibition in the long-running ‘Lasting Impressions’ series will see Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) host a selection of works by two of Palestine’s leading modernist painters.

More than 70 paintings by the late Ismail Shammout and his widow Tamam El-Akhal will be displayed at Sharjah Art Museum from October 24th to December 15th2018.

Now in its ninth year, the ‘Lasting Impressions’ series has brought works by some of the region’s most important, well established, and successful artists to Sharjah. The 2018 edition marks the first time that works by two artists have been exhibited together.

Shammout and El-Akhal lived through the forced resettlement of Palestinians by the Israeli armed forces, known as the ‘Nakba’, in 1948.

Their art is influenced by those tragic events, with Shammout’s prominent style incorporating familiar symbols from Palestinian traditions and culture to create a visual narrative of Palestinian nationalism.

El-Akhal is a leading figure in the Palestinian art scene and was instrumental in the development of her husband’s career. Both artists have contributed to the visual preservation of the Palestinian identity through their work, which has been displayed around the world.

As pioneers of the Palestinian art movement, Shammout and El-Akhal have left their mark on both the modern collective memory and cultural heritage of Palestine. Shammout, who died in 2006 at the age of 76, continues to be a major influence on many Palestinian and Middle Eastern artists working today.

This exhibition at Sharjah Art Museum’s East Wing gallery will explore the main stages of Shammout and El-Akhal’s careers through the decades as they channelled the tragedy, hope and pride of the Palestinian people.

Although inspired by the conflict that has effectively engulfed every aspect of Palestinian society and life, their work combines the aesthetic qualities of fine art with the need to tackle political issues in a manner rarely seen in other artists from the region.

Also on show at Sharjah Art Museum exhibition will be two short films, one of which was produced by Shammout in 1973 and was thought to have been lost to the public after it was seized by the Israeli military in 1982 only for a copy to be discovered years later.

El-Akhal, who will attend the opening of the exhibition, has kept her late husband’s work in her family’s private collection with important pieces regularly loaned to museums around the world.

Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, said:

“During the past 8 years the ’Lasting Impressions’ series of exhibitions has invited the region’s most celebrated Arab artists to Sharjah Art Museum and given them a platform to display their work in the Gulf’s most recognized art museum.

“The latest edition carries on this proud tradition by presenting a superb selection of works by two pioneers of Palestinian art. Ismail Shammout and Tamam El-Akhal were instrumental in laying foundations for a Palestinian art scene that has grown and flourished against a backdrop of persistent conflict and suffering.

“Through their work, the artists gave a voice to the Palestinian cause, proving that art can be a powerful tool to bring attention to injustices that demand attention and the sensitive intervention of countries around the world.”