“The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” According to Oxford dictionaries, this is the definition of art. It is a rather cold explanation, if we consider the countless emotions the human being experiences when (s)he contemplates a painting or a sculpture. On the contrary, art, as Tolstoy says, is the one that “infects” you, able to inspire joy, in spiritual communion with the artist and with other people who contemplate the same work.
This way, it can encourage peaceful coexistence among people, through their free and joyful activity. That is to say, it can help suppress violence, making feelings of brotherhood and love for the others habitual in all human beings. This is essentially the thread that connects the works of Ahmad Yaseen, a Palestinian artist who posts his works every day on his Facebook page. His paintings are different from those found in impromptu collections, churches, or mansions of bygone eras. His canvases are Indian fig trees. This is what allows him to stand out.
Fig trees are spontaneous plants in Asira ash-Shamaliya, a small village in the mountains near Nablus, in the West Bank, where he lives. This plant is the symbol of wild nature. It grows everywhere and adapts to any kind of weather conditions. In the vegetable language, it has a double meaning: “I burn for you” and “circumspection”. If you look at the plant, it does not take much to guess why: its thorns suggest you should touch the plant with extreme caution while picking fruits. If you are not careful, you may feel the burning sting of its thorns on your skin. Tenacious and strong, it is not easy to eradicate this plant. “It is undoubtedly the best way to tell Palestinian history,” Ahmad explained. In fact, he wants to convey the horrors and suffering his people suffered through his works.
Hos university colleagues have described the young man as a “genius”. Not only his great qualities as a painter are impressive, but also his way to express the suffering of the Palestinian people. He does not aim to paint martyrs, much less the guerrilla scenes between Israelis and Palestinians. “I would like to portray elements that provide at least a bit of hope, not only despair – Ahmad said -. An artist has to have a bird’s eye view, ample and clear. And that is what I do.”
A plant on which he portrayed two infants is particularly significant from this point of view. One of them sleeps serenely, lulled in an adult’s arms, whereas the other one is being breastfed by his mother. Two scenes that symbolize the force of human life, which was born and is growing. Another image that catches your eye is the portrait of an elderly woman holding a key close to her heart, a symbol of the return. Her eyes are half shut. If you look at her from a certain perspective, the branches of the fig tree frame the face of the old woman in a way that makes it look like a keffiyeh. The forehead of the woman, with deep wrinkles, reminds on the hardships of life. The key hints at the future. “It represents hope,” Ahmad said about this subject, which is very frequent in his paintings. Also in this case, it is easy to understand the parallelisms between his works and the historical events that shook the Palestinian people.
Each work can require hours, sometimes even days, of work before it is finished. To make sure he has enough raw materials to paint on, the young artist, has begun to plant Indian fig trees around his house. “Palestinians do not know what it means to live serenely,” Ahmad said. The strong and vigorous branches of the Indian fig tree are capable of retaining acrylic colors. Like this plant, “we, Palestinians, are able to withstand many difficulties”. Ultimately this is the goal of art: shake people’s conscience and lead them back to the integrity of our person.