art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Hani Zurob: Learning how to wait and fly.

Hani Zurob is a Palestinian artist, living in exile. He’s unable to return to his home in Gaza since a trip he made to Paris in 2006. He remains in Paris today, creating works that explore the tissues of exile – movement and displacement – concepts that remain close to the painter’s heart.

I really enjoyed his Flying lesson & Waiting series. About that artwork, he wrote:

The idea of this project occurred when my son‪ Qoudsi started to learn to speak. When I used to accompany him and his mother to Charles De Gaulle airport in 2009, he surprised me with the question, “Daddy why don’t you come with us to Jerusalem?” Holding an identity card from Gaza, it would be hard for him to grasp my incapability of never being able to travel with them.


Qoudsi, like all other children in his age, is selective when it comes to which toys he wants to play with. He subconsciously uses them to express his thoughts and concerns. I notice that he increasingly chooses to play with transportation toys, in his belief that there has to be a kind of transportation that can get us together to his grandfather’s house in Jerusalem. Once, he suggested that we should take his small car, and in another time, he wanted to put me in his travelling suitcase, and once he wanted me to ride with him his bicycle after he learned how to ride it.


Yet, he always chooses the plane, which is also his preferred seat on carousels when he sees one. His search is restless, and every time he travels to Jerusalem, I feel he matures and his thoughts become more developed. He still comes to me with new toys and solutions, and his selection changes with his growing thoughts and with his increasing physical abilities to use his toys.


Through the use of oil and acrylic paint and other mediums, I try to create a world which is composed of three worlds: exile where the artist lives (the father), and who appears in the paintings as the sole living human being by the depiction of the son who is portrayed in a relatively small scale in contrast to his surroundings. The second world concerns Qoudsi himself, as he visually appears and in his manner of showing his feelings through the use of his toys and his interactions with them. The third world is one of space, where we come from, which is depicted through walls, and multilayered backgrounds, as symbolic traces of the complex life that does not enable Qoudsi and me to meet. Yet, it is in my construction of a virtual world where a space for such a meeting occurs.


After each trip to Jerusalem and the collection of a new toy to his already filled cupboard, and with each painting where we try to find our ground, Qoudsi still anticipates our trip together, and so do I. Until he realizes the reality that was forced upon us, we will keep playing the waiting game and learning flying lessons.


all images © Hani Zurob Flying Lesson & Waiting series

For more of  Zurob’s work, go to his official website.


7 thoughts on “Hani Zurob: Learning how to wait and fly.

  1. Why is Hani Zurob unable to return to his home in Gaza? Does Hamas prevent his return? Or are these the Egyptian authorities?

    • He was originally traveling to France for a uniquely permitted three month stay, but has been unable to return to his wife and his homeland due to Israel’s sudden severance of all diplomatic ties with the Palestinian Authority after the democratic election of the Hamas Government. so – Israel.

      • But he can return via the Rafah crossing through Egypt – or is Israel somehow still controls that crossing?

      • well, Rafah crossing has been a big issue for years. due to various Israel – Egypt agreements, it has been shut down on and off since Israeli pulling out of the Gaza strip in 2005. And Zurob has additional problems with his family being in Jerusalem, etc.

      • Glad we made it clear that its Egypt and not Israel preventing him to cross into Gaza from Rafah. Egypt is implementing its peace agreements with Israel, and complaints about the limited opening times of the Rafah crossing should be directed to Egypt and Hamas, who control both sides of the border there.

        By the way, Israel did not severe the ties with the PA after the 2006 elections.

        “Upon taking power, Hamas announced they would refuse to honor past international agreements between the Palestinian government and Israel. As a result, the United States and the EU cut off aid to the Gaza Strip, and Israel and the Middle East Quartet implemented punitive economic measures against the Gaza Strip” – anyone with access to Wikipedia can look it up. If the elected government renounces past agreements it can’t complain about severed ties, can it?

        And after those elections a few other things happened that were… lets say, less democratic, like throwing people off roofs. But that’s just a side note.

      • Well, if it’s an Israel – Egypt agreement, then there are atleast two sides to blame – it’s an, I wouldn’t put it all on Egypt, atleast half of the blame goes to Israel.

        Furthermore, yes, there are many issues inside Hamas and Palestine generally, but the rejection of previous agreements in many cases happened because those were bad agreements for Palestinian people.

        There are many undemocratic things going on out there, in and by Israel and in the Occupied territories and by Hamas. That’s why it’s an ongoing conflict for decades now.

      • Maybe, but my original question was why is Hani Zurob unable to return to his home in Gaza? And the answer is – because Egypt is preventing him from entering into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Nothing to do with Israel.

        As to “bad agreements” – rejecting them is fine, but then there are consequences. I think it is good that you recognize Hamas is responsible for the economic troubles in Gaza, since Hamas rejected signed peace agreements with Israel.

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