Leading the dialogue on critical human rights and cultural identity issues, Sliman Mansour stands at the forefront. His resilient dedication is evident in his epic depictions of resistance. Mansour is recognized for his socio-cultural artworks that revitalize the representation of Palestinian identity on the global stage.

Throughout his life, Mansour sought after the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions as well as championed Sustainable Cities and Communities through curating art pieces that commemorate Palestinian traditions and culture.

His dedication can be observed evidently in his curation of art pieces that celebrate the rich traditions and culture of the Palestinian people. Through his art, he skillfully conveys the essence of Palestinian culture using powerful symbolism, constantly standing up for the Palestinian voices under its occupation.

Portrait of Sliman Mansour. Image Courtesy: Middle East Eye

In illustrating his vision of the Palestinian lifestyle, and its traditions, and memorializing its history and culture, Mansour deeply epitomizes art as a symbol of resistance. In fragments, that can deduce the metaphors, such as the depiction of orange trees representing the land lost in Nakba, and women wearing traditional embroidered clothing representing then-revolutionized Palestine.

Camel of Hardship, 1980, Sliman Mansour. Image Courtesy: Sliman Mansour

Since the 1970s, Mansour has been courageously depicting the gruesome realities of the Palestinian people, denoting his own experiences of displacement and cultural uprootedness. Camel of Hardships or "Jamal al-Mahamel" heavily emphasizes the Palestinian struggle with the sharp imagery of the large sack an old man is depicted carrying on his back in the form of a dream.

During the Palestinian National Movement, Mansour with commandeer artists Vera Tamari, Tayseer Barakat, and Nabil Anani founded the New Visions Movement in 1987, which resisted the occupation using creative ways and utilization of local materials such as coffee, henna, and clay to create art. Contributing significantly to the artistic movement in Palestine, Mansour also co-founded Al-Wasiti Arts Center in Jerusalem to shed the spotlight on Palestinian artists in exile.

“Art helped and is still helping a kind of revival of Palestinian identity. And through art we helped in creating that…. creating symbols for Palestinian identity through art,” the artist expressed in an interview with Middle Way Society.

Through this vision, in 1978, Mansour painted a young Palestinian woman called Salma, wearing traditional embroidered clothing and holding a bowl of oranges depicting the fruit as laborers struggle and the orange tree as a catastrophe.

Last Summer in Palestine, 1994, Sliman Mansour. Image Courtesy: Sliman Mansour

Likewise, In 1994, imitating Da Vinci’s famous The Last Supper,  Mansour sought Last Summer in Palestine with a Palestinian man in place of Jesus and twelve Palestinian women for the disciples. It represents peace as a  symbol in the long-lost lifestyle of Palestinian people, feasting with their families, which is now replaced with turmoil.

Mansour works on a new painting at his workshop in Ramallah. Image Courtesy: Nadda Osman, Middle East Eye.

Overall, Mansour’s life is inextricable to his experiences in occupied Palestine and he keeps his craft in the turmoil faced by the Palestinian community.  Accolades such as the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture for notable work in amplifying the Palestinian culture globally and the Palestine Prize for the Visual Arts and many others cannot simplify the oeuvre of Mansour and fully capture the impact of his symbolic art of resistance in representing and replenishing the Palestinian community and cultural identity.

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