I invite you now to come with me to discover the journey of one artist, Samir Salameh, who has been living in exile and wandering the world in search of his roots and his lost homeland. He wanders among the colours and abstract representations that he has created along the way.
Samir Salameh was born in Safad in Palestine in 1944. During Al-Nakba in 1948, when Samir was four years old, he and his family were deported and forced to become refugees. From Majd al-Kroum, in the Galilee, to Lebanon and finally to Syria in Dira’a Refugee Camp, the young boy faced the harsh reality of losing home, stability, and freedom.
When Samir was 15, a new chapter started - he discovered his passion for drawing. Despite his annoying habit of drawing his classmates’ faces instead of paying attention to the teachers, his talent was soon recognised and appreciated by the school, and he was awarded a number of prizes, one of which was a visit by the late Egyptian president, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
After a series of successful exhibitions in Dara’a Cultural Center, Samir managed to gain entry into the Damascus Fine Arts Academy in 1967, where he was privileged to study under some of the finest teachers, including Fateh Al-Modarres, Nazir Nabaa, and Nasir Showra. He graduated in 1972 and moved to Lebanon to work at the media office of the PLO where he spent three years developing the political posters of the resistance movement.
He then studied at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris and worked at a number of jobs that included drawing tourists’ faces, teaching art, and finally working on Arabic publications at UNESCO.
After the Oslo Agreement, Samir returned to Palestine, where he worked for two years on the technical designs for the Red Crescent Society hospital in Khan Younis. Afterwards he went to Ramallah to oversee Al-Hallaj Gallery before being seconded to work with the Red Crescent Society in Al-Bireh until his retirement in 2004. At present Samir lives and works in France.
The summer of 1996 was a significant step in Samir’s journey. He visited his hometown of Safed for the first time and was shocked and saddened by the impossibility of finding his childhood home as described by his parents. From that moment, Samir has refused to surrender to the consequences of Al-Nakba, and Palestinian Safed shines again through his lines and colours, as he becomes more and more determined to hold on to its roots and prepare to return.