Where the Wild Things Are

"Hungry Beasts" by Jad Salman

By: Rasha Hilwi

Published Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Berlin’s Weekend Gallery recently hosted an exhibit of 13 paintings by Palestinian artist Jad Salman, titled “The Wild Beasts are Hungry.”

Born in 1983 in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, Salman has lived in Paris since 2007. In this collection of paintings, Salman speaks to his personal view of the Arab world nearly two years after the outbreak of the revolutions.

“The idea behind the exhibit was not merely to react to what is going on. Rather, it was the outpouring of the personal pain I feel when I see the daily killing. So I decided to end my silence,” said Salman.

The actual work on the paintings took one month, from early July until August 2012.

“I am with the revolutions but I am also with the people. Today, there is a process underway whereby beasts are riding the coattails of these honorable revolutions and their only concern is settling scores,” he said.

“There isn’t only one beast. There are many beasts and they are everywhere. Some of them are the remnants of the old regimes, some are represented by capitalism and the global economy. Some are those who use religion for political aims.”

Salman ties the exhibit to the tyranny of Arab regimes. They are the “bats of darkness,” as he calls them. He represents them through the recurrent face of the tiger. Even though the faces appear again and again, they do not resemble each other.

Salman used the recurring tiger face to stress the element of bestiality. He chose the tiger to represent the wild beast because it is the fiercest of animals. The presence of animals like hyenas and cats in the work indicates that the beast “did not come from a vacuum.” Rather, it is the offspring of a silent milieu that gave these beasts the authority to act ferociously. When this milieu – the people – finally rebelled, the beasts had no choice but to bare their canines to defend their interests.

“Art has been and will always be an attempt to look into the future and a reflection of the artist’s life,” he said.

“I cannot draw a rose and say life is beautiful. Whether the painter or writer likes it or not, he has to work while paying close attention to what is happening around him.”

Salman’s home in Paris is far from the tanks and shelling, but he does not forget his roots.

As for future projects, Salman is working on an exhibit that incorporates graffiti. He believes that Palestinian graffiti is different from other street art because it has been used to transmit information in public without aestheticism. To Salman, this is a sign that, “The truth should be pronounced in its full poignancy.”

Salman graduated from al-Najah University in Nablus, Palestine, with a degree in art and interior design. Currently, he is working on his doctoral dissertation at the University of Paris 8, the same institution where he presented a master’s thesis in contemporary art and new media.

Salman has had exhibits in Greece, China, Spain, Germany, Japan, USA, and Dubai. He has also had exhibits in many private showrooms in cultural centers in Ramallah, Nablus, Nazareth, Gaza, Jerusalem, France, and Norway.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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