KAMAL BOULLATA (Jerusalem, 1942 - Berlin, 2019) buried in his homeland JERUSALEM.

From 7 August to 6 September - Espace Claude Lemand

  • BOULLATA, Surrat Al-Ard 1.

    Surrat Al-Ard 1, 1997. Donation Claude & France Lemand. Museum, Institut du monde arabe, Paris. © The Estate of Kamal Boullata. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

  • BOULLATA, Surrat al-Ard 2.

    Surrat al-Ard 2, 1997. Donation Claude & France Lemand. Museum, Institut du monde arabe, Paris. © Succession Kamal Boullata. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

  • BOULLATA, Surrat al-Ard 3.

    Surrat al-Ard 3, 1997. Donation Claude & France Lemand. Musem, Institut du monde arabe, Paris. © Succession Kamal Boullata. Courtesy Galerie Claude Lemand, Paris.

Berlin, on 6 August 2019.
KAMAL BOULLATA, pales­tinian artist and art writer, passed away.
He was born in Jerusalem in 1942.

Kamal Boullata Family Statement.

Kamal Boullata, the son of Jerusalem, will finally make it back to his home­land for burial at the Cemetery of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem at Mt. Zion next to his family and ances­tors.

Kamal was born in Jerusalem, and grew up in the Old City. His family traces their his­tory in the Old City for over 600 years, according to the Records of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and the Arab Orthodox Mukhtar for the Old City, the late Mr. Mitri Toubbeh.

For half a cen­tury, since 1967, he was barred from Jerusalem because he hap­pened to be out of the country, for an exhibit in Beirut in 1967 when the Occupation started. All his efforts to return to Jerusalem failed, except for a brief visit in 1984 which was memo­ri­al­ized in the film “Stranger at Home”. However, Jerusalem always stayed in his heart, and in his art.

His wish was to return and be buried in Jerusalem. After a week of stren­uous effort by his family and their lawyers, the family was finally granted per­mis­sion today to have his body trans­ported and buried in Jerusalem.

The right of every Palestinian to return to his home­land is a sacred right. It is par­tic­u­larly impor­tant for Jerusalemites, for whom the Holy City is part of their lives and essence. It is sad that so many are denied this right, but it is a bitter sat­is­fac­tion when someone of his stature and world-known respect is finally allowed his last wish.

May He Rest in Peace, and may his Memory be Forever.

Biography, from web­site paljour­neys.org

Kamal Boullata was born in Jerusalem. His mother was Burbara Ibrahim Atalla and his father was Yusuf Isa Boullata, both of whom were born in Jerusalem. Kamal has three brothers and two sis­ters: Isa, Renée, André, Jamil, and Su‘ad. He is the youngest in his family. His wife is Lily Farhoud.

Boullata grew up in the Christian Quarter of the Old City, which fell under Jordanian rule after the Israeli occu­pa­tion of West Jerusalem in 1948. He com­pleted his ele­men­tary edu­ca­tion at the Collège des Frères and his sec­ondary edu­ca­tion at the St. George’s School; he grad­u­ated from it in 1960.

In the absence of an art school in Jerusalem, Boullata devel­oped his artistic talent by him­self. During the summer hol­i­days his par­ents would send him to the work­shop of Khalil al-Halabi (1889–1964), well known for his painting of icons, in the quarter where they lived. There, he learned the art of icon painting. But his real pas­sion was to draw scenes from life and the street where he lived. When he was still an ado­les­cent, art col­lec­tors in the Jordanian diplo­matic corps sought to acquire his water­colors, which he painted in their pres­ence. The money he made selling his paint­ings at exhi­bi­tions in Jerusalem and Amman enabled him to travel to Italy where he spent four years (1961–65) studying art, grad­u­ating from Rome’s Academia di Belle Arti, fol­lowed by three years (1968–71) at the Corcoran Art Museum School in Washington, DC.

In 1974 he inter­rupted his stay in Washington to go to Beirut where, for a short period, he was appointed art director of a pub­lishing house, Dar al-fata al-‘Arabi, a pioneering ini­tia­tive by the Palestinian Planning Center in Beirut. As senior artist and member of the edi­to­rial board of that house, he designed all the basic tem­plates of the var­ious pub­li­ca­tions that appeared in later years.

Boullata has lived in the United States (1968–92), Morocco (1993–96), and France (1997–2012). In 2012–13 he was elected as Fellow of the Wissenschaftkolleg in Berlin, and he lived and worked with his wife in Germany.

Kamal Boullata died on 6 August 2019 in Berlin, Germany.

His works are found in both pri­vate and public col­lec­tions, including the British Museum; the Museum of the Alhambra in Granada; the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris; the New York Public Library; the Bibliothèque Louis Notari in Monaco; the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick, NJ; and Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman.

In 1993 and 1994, Boullata pur­sued field research on Islamic art in Morocco and Spain as a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellow. In 2001, and with a grant from the Ford Foundation, he con­ducted field research on post-Byzantine painting in Palestine.
Moroccan lit­erary critic Abdelkebir Khatibi wrote in his intro­duc­tion to the cat­a­logue of Boullata’s Surrat al-ard (Navel of the Earth) exhi­bi­tion (Darat al-Funun, Amman, 1998): “Be­hind this pas­sion for geom­etry lies the tra­di­tion of icon-painting, which forged the begin­nings of his artistic training, a tra­di­tion that has main­tained a ven­er­able con­ti­nuity between Byzantium and the Arabo-Islamic civ­i­liza­tion of the Middle East. But Boullata does not con­tent him­self with exploring this double tra­di­tion, he dis­places it, as an artist and as aes­theti­cian.”

José Miguel Puerta Vilchez, a Spanish pro­fessor of Arab aes­thetics at Granada University, wrote in his intro­duc­tion to the cat­a­logue of Boullata’s Bilqis exhi­bi­tion (Meem Gallery, Dubai, 2014): “Ap­pre­ci­ated inter­na­tion­ally, these works were cre­ated using a selec­tion of Arabic maxims and apho­risms extracted from Holy Scriptures and Sufi sources. … The issuing com­po­si­tion of geo­metric pat­terns fuses the verbal and the visual in a purely Arab art that is refresh­ingly modern.”

Introducing Boullata’s exhi­bi­tion … And There Was Light (Berloni Gallery, London, 2015), British art critic Jean Fisher wrote: “Boul­lata’s entire aes­thetic output, visual and tex­tual, reflects a life­time devoted to resisting by subtle, non-vio­lent but fiercely single-minded means, the forces that seek to extin­guish the Palestinian spirit and its capacity for joy.”

Kamal Boullata’s arti­cles (in both Arabic and English) have appeared in exhi­bi­tion cat­a­logues, antholo­gies, and aca­demic jour­nals, including The Muslim World, Journal of Palestine Studies, Third Text, Cuadernos de Arte, Peuples Méditerranéens, Mundus Artium, and Michigan Quarterly Review. His works have been trans­lated into French, German, Italian, Hebrew, and Spanish.

Copyright © Galerie Claude Lemand 2012.

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