Born in Gaza in 1940, Laila Shawa graduated summa cum laude in Fine Arts from the Italian Accademia di Belle Arti in 1964 and received a diploma in plastic arts from the Accademia San Giacomo in Rome. From 1965 to 1967, she returned to Gaza to teach arts and crafts to underprivileged children. She now lives and works in London. As a Palestinian artist, Shawa’s concern is to reflect the political realities of her country, becoming, in the process, a chronicler of events. Her work is based on a heightened sense of realism and targets injustice and persecution wherever their roots may be.
The initial impetus for a piece often comes from her own photographs, which are later transformed by means of silkscreen printing techniques. The written word is often present in her work, as in the acclaimed Walls of Gaza series (1994), which focused on the heart-rending messages of hope and resistance spray-painted, in defiance of Israeli censorship, by the ordinary people of Gaza upon the walls of their city. One of her recent works, Walls of Gaza III, Fashionista Terorrista, 2010, will be exhibited at Art Dubai.
Her work has been exhibited in Italy, Germany, Austria, and the United Kingdom, in most Arab countries, North Africa, Iraq, Russia, China, Japan, Malaysia and USA. She is represented in public and private collections across the world, including the National Galleries of Jordan and Malaysia, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the British Museum in London and the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. Her work is currently on tour in Brazil, in the Centro Cultural Banco do Brazil’s exhibition Isla, the first major exhibition of Islamic Art in Brazil.
12th Century AD
Amended Resolutions I
Amended Resolutions II
Coke is it!
Gates Within Gates
Letter to a Mother
Passages to Freedom
Brought Forward: Carried Forward in the Name of God
Walls of Gaza III
|1957 - 58||
School of Art Leonardo Da Vinci, Cairo, Egypt
|1958 - 60||Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma, University of Rome, Italy, BA Hons Fine Arts|
|1960 - 63||Summer Courses under Austrian Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka, School of Seeing, Salzburg, Austria|
|1960 - 64||Scuola di Arti Ornamentali San Giacomo, Rome, Italy. Diploma in Plastic & Decorative Arts|
|1965 - 67||Supervisor for Arts & Crafts education in refugee camps for UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) in Gaza|
|1966 - 67||Lecturer with UNESCO Institute of Education for UNRWA in Gaza|
|1968 - 75||Full-time artist in Beirut|
|1976 - 88||Lived between London and Gaza. Collaborated on the building and design of The Rashad Shawa Cultural Centre, in Gaza, for which Laila Shawa executed the stained glass windows|
|1988 - present||Returns to live mainly in London where she resumed work as a full-time artist
|Selected Solo Shows|
|2012||The Other Side of Paradise, October Gallery, London, UK|
|2011||Trapped: A Female Suicide Bomber, Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France|
|2010-11||Sarab (Mirage), The Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE|
|2010||Arabopop, Articulate Baboon Gallery, Cairo, Egypt|
|2008||Sarab (Mirage), Atrium Gallery, DIFC, Dubai, UAE|
|2000||In the Name of God: Crucifixion 2000, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK|
|1994||The Walls of Gaza Series II, The Library, SOAS, University of London, London, UK|
|1992||Women and Magic, The Gallery, London, UK|
|1990||Women and the Veil, Jordan National Gallery, Amman, Jordan|
|1975||Of Horses and Cities, L’Antiquaire Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon|
|1972||Exhibition at Sultan Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait|
|1971||Cities of Gold, Dar Tunis, The Tunisian Cultural Centre, Beirut, Lebanon|
|1970||Laila Shawa at the Vendome, Hotel Vendome, Beirut, Lebanon|
|1968||Exhibition of drawings by Laila Shawa, The Book Centre Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon|
|1965||Contrast and Difference, Marna House, Gaza, Palestine|
|Selected Group Shows|
|2011||Abu Dhabi Art Fair, October Gallery (London, UK), Abu Dhabi, UAE|
|2008 - 11||Art Dubai, October Gallery (London, UK), Dubai, UAE|
|2011||Passport to Palestine, La Scatola Gallery, London, UK|
|Contemporary Art/Arab & Iranian, Sotheby’s, London, UK|
|2010 - 11||Miragens: Contemporary Art in the Islamic World, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, touring to : Sao Paolo,
|2010||Sajjil, A Century of Modern Art, Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar|
|Co-incidence, Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France|
|Crunchtime: Artist’s Responses to the Global Crisis, International Visual Arts Event, York, UK|
|2009 - 10||Contemporary Calligraphic Art from the Arab World, Nabad Gallery, Jabal Amman, Jordan|
|2009||Middle Eastern and European Art, the Recessionists, Somerset, UK|
|Arabesque: Arts from the Arab World, the Kennedy Centre, Washington, DC, USA|
|2008||Arab Print, Edition I, Meem Gallery, Dubai, UAE|
|Routes, Middle Eastern and Arab Art, Waterhouse & Dodd, London, UK|
|Roads Were Open, Roads Were Closed, Third Line Gallery, Dubai, UAE|
|Mediterraneo, Italian Cultural Institute, London, UK|
|Spring Show, October Gallery, London, UK|
|Word into Art, a British Museum touring exhibition, The Atrium, DIFC, Dubai, UAE|
|2006||Word into Art, British Museum, London, UK|
|Text Messages, October Gallery, London, UK|
|2005||Walled In: Walled Out, Laila Shawa and Noa Lidor, Green Cardamom, London, UK|
|2003||Religion, Art and War, Maison Des Artes, London, UK|
|Transvangarde: Contemporary Art from Around the World, (October Gallery), Kulturbrauerei, Berlin, Germany|
|2002||Between Legend and Reality, Modern Art from the Arab World, Reykjavik Art Museum and Akureyri Art Museum, Iceland|
|From the Ocean to the Gulf and Beyond: Arab Contemporary Art, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan|
|2002-11||Breaking the Veils: Women Artists from the Islamic World, exhibition organised by the Royal Society of Fine Arts, Jordan, and Pan-Mediterranean Women Artists Network F.A.M. (Femme-Artist-Méditerranée) based in Greece which travelled throughout Europe, Australia and USA|
|2002||A Thousand Ways of Being. Memory and Presence in the Arts of Diasporas, October Gallery, London, UK|
|Masterstrokes: Contemporary Arabic Calligraphy, October Gallery, London, UK|
|Transvangarde, An Artistic World Wide Web, October Gallery, London, UK|
|2001||Twelve Arab Artists, Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam, the Netherlands|
|1998 - 00||Art Beyond Borders, UNESCO and TIMOTCA (The International Museum of Twentieth Century Art); UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France; Mitra Municipal Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal; Las Vegas Art Museum, USA|
|2000||First International Forum for a Culture of Peace by Pan-Mediterranean Women Artists Network, Rhodes, Greece|
|1990 - 00||Dialogue of the Present, Hot Gallery, Bath; Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth;
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London; Pittshanger Manor Gallery, London;
Brighton University Gallery, Brighton, UK
|1998||Mediterranea, Grand Palais, Brussels, Belgium|
|1997||Artistes palestiniens contemporains, Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris, France|
|1996||Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK|
|Contemporary Arab Artists, the World Bank Gallery, the World Bank Building, Washington DC., USA|
|The Right to Write: Calligraphic Works from the Collection of the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, The Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College, Decatur,
|1995 - 97||The Right to Hope, One World Art, UN travelling exhibition starting in Johannesburg, South Africa (whole exhibition was lost in Sarajevo 1997/8)|
|1995||Contemporary Middle Eastern Art, recent acquisition, John Addis Gallery, British Museum, London, UK|
|Artists’ View, The Arab World, Willamette Arts Gallery, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, USA|
|1994 - 95||Forces of Change, Artists of the Arab World, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Dudley House, Lehman Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; The Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago Illinois; Wolfson Gallery and Central Gallery, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami Florida; Nexus Contemporary Art Centre, Atlanta, Georgia; Bedford Gallery,Walnut Creek, California; Gwinnett Arts Center, Duluth, Georgia, USA|
|1994||Shawa and Wijdan, October Gallery, London, UK|
|From Exile to Jerusalem, Al-Wasiti Art Centre, Jerusalem, Israel|
|1993||Exhibition of Limited Prints Editions at SAGA, Salon de l’estampe et de l’édition d’art à Tirage limité, Grand Palais, Paris, France|
|1992||Three Artists from Gaza: Fayez Al Hasani, Kamel al Mughanni and Laila Shawa, The Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan|
|1990||Malaysian Experience, National Art Gallery of Malaysia,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
|1989||Contemporary Art from the Islamic World, Barbican Centre, London, UK|
|1988||The Baghdad Biennale, Saddam Centre, Baghdad, Iraq|
|1987||Arab Women Artists in the UK, Kufa Gallery, London, UK|
|1968 - 78||With Palestinian Union of Artists, based in Beirut, exhibitions in most
Arab countries, North Africa, Russia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Europe,
UK and USA
The National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
|Selected Book References|
|Khal, Helen. The Woman Artist in Lebanon, Catholic Press, Lebanon, 1987,|
|Ali, Wijdan. Contemporary Art from the Islamic World, Scorpion Books, London, UK, 1988,|
|Shammout, Ismail. Art in Palestine, AI Qabbas Press, Kuwait 1989,|
|Laila Shawa, Works 1965- 1994 AI-Hani Books, 1994.|
|Forces of Change, Artists of the Arab World, Washington D.C., USA, 1994|
Bahnasi, Dr. Afif, Pioneers of Modern Art in the Arab Countries, Dar Al-Raed Al-Arabi, Beirut.
Shawa and Wijdan, October Gallery,1994, Amica Press.
The Dictionary of Art”, Macmillan Press, 1996, London.
The Right to Hope, Earthscan Publications Ltd., 1996, London
Impressions”, H. Aschehoug & Co., 1996, Norway.
The Right to Write, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, USA.
Artistes Palestiniens Contemporains, Institute Du Monde Arabe, 1997, Paris, France.
The Space Between Our Footsteps, Simon & Schuster, 1998.
Dialogue of the Present, Woman’s Art Library, 1999.
Mediterranea, Art Life 1998, Brussels, Belgium.
Twelve Arab Artists”, The Werled Museum, 2001, Netherlands.
Between Legend and Reality, Aurora Art Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum Iceland 2002.
From the Ocean to the Gulf and Beyond: Arab Modern Art”, The Royal Society of Fine Arts, 2002, Amman, Jordan.
Breaking the Veil, The Jordan National Gallery and FAM, 2002 Rhodes, Greece.
The Word into Art The British Museum 2006/.2008
Meditarraneo, A Sea that Unites ,The Italian Cultural Institute, London 2008.
Sarab , DIFC, Dubai 2008.
Impossible Dreams, the work and Art of Laila Shawa, SkIRA Books, Milano, 2009 (pending)
Contemporary Art in The Middle East, ArtWorld, Black Dog Publishing, London, UK, 2009.