“The painting is for less than the price of two chickens,” said artist Naji Nasr with great sadness, while holding in his hands a painting of the Dome of the Rock, among the dozens of paintings whose prices were announced, in line with the deteriorating economic conditions in Gaza.
And under pressure to support his family of 5; Nasr (44 years) – who suffers from a mobility impairment – resorted to publishing his paintings on social media and promoting them by announcing big discounts on their prices, and he tells Al-Jazeera Net, “Despite this, there is no demand, people prefer to provide a dish (meal) to buying a plate “.
Nasr found the talent of burning by burning an opportunity to support his family, but at the same time he saw it as a contribution to documenting the march of the Palestinian national struggle, spreading symbols in the lives of Palestinians and introducing them, and commemorating the martyrs and prisoners.
This is a silent truth… blind… deaf… Painting by Naji Muhammad Nasr
Posted by Kanojo Tashi on Saturday, 12 December 2020
The beginning was a coincidence
Nasr says that he loves the art of drawing from a young age, but his ability to paint by burning was discovered by chance, when he was in a training course to teach carpentry for people with special needs at the Islamic University in Gaza City. At that time, the “tin cauldron” broke down, so he succeeded in repairing it, and his first steps in practicing this began. Art, when the beginning of his drawings impressed coaches and trainees.
Six years have passed since that moment, and since then Nasr has completed about 4,000 paintings of various topics and titles, and the title remains the most prominent among them is heritage and issues of national struggle.
Nasr did not despair, and despite the tightness of the situation, he feels very proud of his contribution to preserving heritage and promoting Palestinian symbols, and his paintings reached the east and west of the earth, whether through foreign visitors, or by sending them by express mail to those who request them through his accounts on Social Media.
I was born to live the happiness but you swapped it with a scream ..
Posted by Naji Mohamed Nasr on Friday, 11 December 2020
Corona is the scourge of art
Before the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, Nasr had a special corner in one of the most famous hotels in Gaza City, frequented by foreign visitors and official delegations, but he was forced to close it, in compliance with the preventive measures to combat the pandemic.
Nasr was using that angle as a studio, as there is no room for a studio in his modest home, which does not exceed 60 square meters.
He told Al-Jazeera Net, “I used to spend many hours a day in this corner, drawing and explaining to visitors the nature of the paintings, and many of them used to acquire some of what I paint, or ask me to draw personal pictures of them or their wives and loved ones.”
After closing the corner, and with the prolonged Corona crisis; Nasr resorted to publishing his drawings on his personal account on Facebook, and announcing a campaign of big discounts on their prices until the end of this month, but without achieving the desired result.
Hello you ❤❤❤
Posted by Naji Mohamed Nasr on Thursday, 19 November 2020
Nasr reduced the prices of his paintings by about 70%. The smallest of his paintings cost 29 shekels (about 9 dollars), while the largest price is 69 shekels (about 21 dollars).
Nasr says, “People in Gaza live in successive crises even before Corona, due to the long years of siege, and Corona came to make matters worse, so whoever will buy a plate is unable to provide a loaf of bread for his family.”
According to Palestinian and international estimates, the poverty rate in the Gaza Strip is 56%, while the unemployment rate is 49%.
The Dome of the Rock, Al-Durra
The Dome of the Rock in occupied Jerusalem is the most famous among Nasr’s paintings and the best-selling, so he cannot remember the number of times he painted it.
In addition to the Dome of the Rock, other paintings of patriotic figures were best-selling and attracting interested people, most notably the portrait of the late President Yasser Arafat, the founder of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), the martyr Ahmed Yassin, as well as the late South African fighter Nelson Mandela.
Nasr participated in two art exhibitions in Gaza, one of them entitled “National Unity”, and he had 42 paintings of patriotic figures from the leaders of the factions and symbols of the martyrs and prisoners, and the second, titled “Arafat and the Revolution,” in which he displayed 70 paintings depicting the life of the late President.
Like nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza, the blockade was the steepest obstacle to victory. The occupation authorities prevented him from traveling to participate in art exhibitions in the West Bank and abroad more than once.
Nasr said, “Suffering has many faces in Gaza, and the blockade remains its most ugly face. This unjust siege deprives us of our basic rights and the most basic necessities of life.”
Posted by Naji Mohamed Nasr on Tuesday, 17 November 2020
Under flimsy security pretexts, Israel prohibits the entry of the burning device to draw on wood, so Nasr was forced to use an alternative tool used in repairing mobile phones, and he made some adjustments to it, and he also replaced high-priced beech wood, which is not always available in Gaza, by drawing on cardboard ( Paperboard).
The electricity crisis is also a major obstacle to Nasr, who spends more than 10 hours daily practicing fees, but collides with the emergency distribution schedule for electricity, which reaches homes for 8 hours, compared to 8 hours, and more than that at peak times.