(...) “In 1912-1913, George Braque and Pablo Picasso produced the first pictorial collages. This recent technique in the history of art is intimately linked to politics, developing in all the arts from drawing to photography and, of course, by literature and music. Picasso already insertedpress clippings dealing with politics; later, Expressionists George Grosz, John Heartfield, and Otto Dix set up the practice as a full-fledged weapon of war. Nowadays, Hazem Harb rehabilitates this practice by seeking to materialize a political and historical thought, and by producing forms that emerge and evoke architecture.However, unlike the more historical examples, Harb works in an underlying register. Palestinian artist, he is interested in the historical past of his country. The use of collage allows him to construct a discourse that does not exist or at least is hidden. Harb has collected old photographs and archives that he cuts and inserts into conceptual compositions. (...)How to evoke the past of a people when it is denied in its very existence? That is the question asked by Harb.”LoïcLe Gall,Assistant Curator of the Department of Contemporary Art and Prospective of Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2019Montoro12 Galleryis proud to present The Persistence of Memory, the first solo exhibition in Brussels of celebrated Palestinian artist, Hazem Harb(Gaza, Palestine, 1980).On display will bea collection of Harb’s works spanning several series created between 2015and 2019, starting with the artist’s introduction of collage to his practice in 2015.Usinga research-driven approach to each elementof his work, Harb takes his inspirationfrom multiple sources that span from the wisdom of Salvador Dali to the words of the prolificPalestinian poetMahmoud Darwish. The artist is an avid reader who investigates architectureas a mode of imperialismanddelves deep into the archeology, folklore, and historyof his native culture. Hiscollages transcend aesthetic brilliance, each fragment representing a piece of apuzzle. Arectangleof cold grey plexi-glass overlaid uponaphotograph of Jerusalem’s softstone walls might, for example,represent the imposition of concrete Bauhaus structuresupon the visual landscape. In this painstaking manner, Harb creates his collages by slicing and layering archivalphotographs, building upon them with his own drawingsand foundmaterials,including mapsandcoins.
Montoro12 Galleryand Artist ResidenceRue de la Régence, 67 -1000 Brussels –Via Alfonsine, 21 –00127 Rome -Mobile +39 392 9578974 [email protected] -www.m12gallery.com Thepiecesselected for this exhibitiontraceHarb’s aestheticevolution over the last four years,yet the topic of the artist’s exploration remains constant.Hekeenlyuses his positionas an artist to reaffirm history, makingsense of the intricacies of personal and collective memory and the sense of longing thatinvariably stems fromdisplacement. Physical photographs might be forgotten, destroyed or disregarded,and antiquities mayface erasure, inline with political changes, hegemony,and shifting borders;yetHarb’s collages pullthem together, underscoring their importanceand establishing theirsignificance inthe present.This artist’spracticequestions our very modesof recordingand understandinghistory, divulgingthe ways in which it can be manipulated. In doing so, heopens up awider question,exploringhow our memories are formedandhow politics and power help shape these memories.Some of the works on display investigate the conflicting incarnations ofJerusalem, a place that holds much significance and varied meanings across faiths, races, geographies and generations.In Bauhaus as Imperialism,series #2, 2019,there isbeauty in difference, as loomingformslikesecurity barriers and glimpsesof Brutalist architectureobscure views of the Dome ofThe Rock,whichcould reflect the disruptivelandscape of today. Stern concrete and harsh geometrical lines shoot out from Jerusalem’spassiveforms.The cutting edges and imposing appearance do, on first glance, feel like they havelittle to do with preconceivednotionsof the Holy City,but the layers ofblack and white photographs do: infacttheyrevealthe first post officebuilt during the British Mandate and inauguratedin 1938. And in Harb’s Occupation Monumentsseriesfrom2016,jolting pieces are sliced from the compositionbegging the question, what is missing from the picture? What was there before,and is nowgone? “As an artist I made a conscious decisionthat my work musthave meaning,” says Harb. “I have a responsibility to preserve the visual culture of my country as it reaches the point of exclusion. Beyond this I intend that my work should have universal relevance, the topic of homeand its collective andindividual significance is nevermore relevant than today in our time of globalization, new technologies and unpredictable political climate.”