David and Goliath: Palestinian Artist Spreads Hope
By Ramzy Baroud
When one commits to the life of an active citizen, spending their hours days
and years reading and writing about current events, it becomes a daily
struggle to overcome the cynicism that chases after you with the despairing
headlines marking each newspaper or magazine. Rare is it when someone or
something comes along to revive the feelings of courage, tenacity and
wilfulness of the young and hopeful activist.
In my office, hanging above the fireplace in conspicuous view from any part
of the room is a large print of Rana Ghassan’s “David and Goliath”. It has
been placed in a strategic location, where beholding it daily is
unavoidable. I am forced to study the foreboding danger portrayed as
soldiers gather in the distant dust. I must consider that the young faceless
boy in the work stands with no barricade to protect him, no riot gear,
armoured vehicle, just a worn-out cotton t-shirt and a steadfastness that
can move mountains.
With a hearty clutch on a handful of stones, his only weapon, the bulging
veins and blanched knuckles convey an uncommon strength that so fluently and
completely relays the history of the Palestinian struggle. It is not a
message of victimization, weakness and pity. Yes, it does speak of
adversity, injustice, but also of empowerment and the will to rise above
wrong. If there is any notion that Palestinians would wish to relay, it is
this; that their fight is not born of weakness and pity, but of brazen
determination and guts. Ghassan is an ambassador in her own right, and has,
in my opinion, conveyed this message impeccably.
“David and Goliath” reflects a symphony of emotions. She masterfully brings
together elements of accurate drawing, mood coloration, and phenomenal
composition, capturing subtle emotions sometimes hidden within a live scene
or photograph, and expresses the struggle of life under oppression in an
inspiring light of courage and struggle.
One of her many strengths is that Ghassan focuses on the positive emotions
of a negative scene. Some artists who choose to focus on Palestinian themes
concentrate on the oppressors, which results in morbid, dark, and although
very powerful and remarkable, nonetheless gloomy scenes. She believes that
history has shown us that it is our darkest hours, which provide us with the
contrasting background for the brightest light of hope and inspiration.
Clearly, this idea is captured in her work.
Recent months have sadly also shown a less dignified side of the Palestinian
cause. With infighting and internal politics so divisive that the real
essence of struggle is eroded, Ghassan’s also provides a painful and abrupt
reminder of the real heroes in this struggle. It is the poor, the
disenfranchised and more, the youth of Palestine that keep the authentic and
true struggle alive. I believe that Ghassan, through this intensely
meaningful portrait, not only exposes the outside enemy, but the failure of
the Palestinian leadership as well, for it is not politicians, ministers and
the like that brave the occupying army, but a boy in the springtime of his
youth who stands in his people’s defence.
I am so thankful for Rana Ghassan, for her genius, dedication and commitment
to documenting this struggle in such a beautiful way. The pride and hope
that screams from each canvas forces one to renew their commitment somehow,
to reconsider their place in this unshakable struggle with each thoughtful
gaze. I am certain that Ghassan will be honoured for generations as one of
the most gifted Palestinian artists of our time.
-For more information visit http://www.cafepress.com/ranaghassan
-Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work
has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest
book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle
(Pluto Press, London). For more, visit his website: http://www.ramzybaroud.net