The Refugee collection
Ahmad Canaan has walked in a way similar to the one followed by the artists Ismail Shammout, Sulieman Mansour and others with regard to the Refugee theme. While Shammout chronicled the displacement which he witnessed, mainly in the fifties, as we notice that his painting Where to..? 1953, is drawn with style combining between the expressive and realistic, and amplifying the man's figure (Ismail Shammout, Art in Palestine, 1985 page number 152), the refugee's figure in Canaan's works is not defined since he does not draw the facial features, but uses the transcription and replication of his technique of a template snipped in the form of refugee. Thus every Palestinian becomes a refugee: a replication of his suffering and displaced brother. The artist drew the figure of the Palestinian refugee wearing a Keffieyeh, still roaming throughout the earth, hoping to resettle in his homeland (The Return painting). This collection is unique since the same figure appears in all paintings, thus gaining an iconic dimension through repetition.
In one of the paintings (The Refugee 4), we see the refugee's back, while he's carrying his belonging in his hands and heading for nowhere, to settle in the void which dominates the general structure of the artworks, thus enhancing the displacement feeling experienced by the refugee.
In another painting (The Refugee 5), we observe that the artist drew the path that the refugee should have taken. This path is actually the shadow of the refugee's figure, lacking facial features. Moreover, the repetition of the same figure alludes to the huge number of refugees still trapped in other countries, waiting for their return. Another eye-catching element in this collection is the big size of the artworks (190\140) which is consistent with the human height. By using this longitudinal artistic composition, the artist aims to enhance the spectator's empathy with the refugee that could have been one of us.
Oil on canvas 120x170
Collection of Dr. Abd El-Aziz and Majida Allabadi, Amman, Jordan.