Palestina e Giordania: i graffiti di Hamza Abu Ayyash

Hamza Abu Ayyash

Hamza Abu Ayyash è nato in libano, da entrambi genitori palestinesi. Suo padre è di Hebron e sua madre è una rifugiata nata in Giordania, nel campo profughi di Al Zarqaa. Entrambi i genitori hanno fatto parte all’Organizzazione per la Liberazione della Palestina. Hamza Abu Ayyash ha viaggiato dal Libano alla Siria, poi è stato in Tunisia per poi stabilirsi in Giordania fino al 1997.  Si sente appartenere a tutta questa regione, e ha sia la nazionalità palestinese che giordana.

Hamza Abu Ayyash graffiti in Bethlehem

“Ho una storia per quasi ogni pezzo che ho fatto,una di questa è avvenuta a Betlemme.”

“I have stories for nearly every piece i did, one of them happened in Bethlehem”

“It was  2 am, me and two friends were next to the wall I was planning to do my piece on, after chatting a bit, I was holding my sketchbook and all the spray paint cans were around me, a car for Palestinian intelligence stopped next to us and a guy stepped from it ad he was wearing uniform, he was 1st Lieutenant”.

* What are you doing and who are you?!” the Lieutenant asked

“My name is Hamza Abu Ayyash, I’m an artist.” I replied

* Show me your ID.” the Lieutenant ordering me

“Here you go.” I gave him my ID

* What are you doing here? What do you want to do on the wall? Slogans for political parties?

“No, here is the sketch.”

I showed him my sketch that was showing in it a white character holding his head with both of his hands while his guts forming the historical map of Palestine, and a text next to it that says “My guts declare my identity”, the man became emotional, and showed the sketch to the rest of his colleagues, they were also touched, then he told me: “You know, all of us in this patrol were ex-prisoners at the Israeli jails for more than 9 years each… carry on, and we’ll watch over you as long as you keep up what you do.”

“That piece was one of my most favourites”.

The white character in Hamza Abu Ayyash work had it’s first appearance during the major hunger strike in 2012 by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.


“I translated the spirit and the morales into visual form of muscles, and because I’m trying to illustrate someone in particular; the character was faceless, but taking many poses, along with arabic text completing the visual message”

Hamza Abu Ayyash

Q: Which global issues do you care about and does that influence or enter your art?

A: Globally what concerns me the most is freedom and liberation of nations, freedom of speech, justice, individuality.

Hamza Abu Ayyash

Q: What’s the most important issue facing humanity right now?

A: As I see, the most important thing that is facing humanity is the big brother system, and the police state, and humans are being drifted to the carbon age (all tech and linked to the one monitoring system), hunger is an issue that concerns me but it is on going issue, also the nature… we are killing our planet.


Q: Are there any issues from the country you currently live in that effect your work?

A: The Israeli occupation, is the most important issue we as palestinians are facing, in the white character project, the whole theme is revolving around this topic.


Q: Are you interested in coming to Barcelona to paint? What’s your general perception of Barcelona?

A: Yes of course I’d love to come to Barcelona to do art, graffiti or public performance, but mainly as a graffiti creator, Spain in general is very beautiful country, and I think that Barcelona is an important city to visit for anyone who wants to do art.


Q: Where would you like to visit and work artistically?

A: I see the whole globe a canvas, and Id like to leave my trace in every place I visit, I hope I can travel the  world and seven seas to do art.


Q: What’s the current political structure where you live?

A: Here in Palestine the situation is a bit complicated, we live under a national authority under occupation acting like an independent state in without any authority, so its a bit tricky to understand the political structure here.


Q: How is street art perceived where you live?

A: Artists in general have some kind of respect here, and what I offer as street art, graffiti to be precise, is somehow respected for the subjects I present, what concerns me and what I illustrate is a common burden every palestinian hold no matter what his\her political views were, so my work was admired by public and officials.


Q: What options do you have as a graffiti creator as a way of life?

A: Street art is not enough to pay bills and life expenses in our community, its wonderful, and I try to keep balance between my everyday job and my art in streets.


Q: Any additional info that you would like to include?

A: There is no doubt that the Apartheid wall is a very tempting drawing surface for graffiti artists, only if it wasn’t positioned in such situation. When contemplating about this issue – taking into consideration the presence of the apartheid wall and the message it represents- one can learn that any act of drawing on such a surface would only beautify it to an extent where dealing with the Apartheid wall’s existence becomes natural and acceptable to the viewer’s eye making it also mentally acceptable. For example, if we to take Yasser Arafat’s graffiti piece – on the apartheid wall on Qalandya’s checkpoint- by the artist “vince 7”, it is beloved and highly liked by the public, which means that the surface (Apartheid wall) became implicitly acceptable by the public. Therefore, any graffiti work drawn on this surface serves as a validation and a confirmation of the walls’ existence, on one hand. On the other hand, the Apartheid wall does not belong to us – the Palestinians- rather, it is a cancerous tumor, and any work of art on such a tumor is only cosmetic. To bring the picture closer to mind; imagine when one paints a rose on a cancerous tumor eroding his body!

Moreover, the implications of any messages on the wall will not be exposed to the right recipients – who, in this case are the occupiers on the other side of the wall- even if the messages were slogans attacking the presence of the occupation, they are written or drawn on the side of the wall that surrounds the West Bank, while the other side of the wall is completely clean and the presence of the wall as an Apartheid wall is not reinforced by visual messages, despite overlooking the collective Jewish consciousness that is being marketed by the Zionist entity, the idea of the wall exists, however, in a different manner than it is currently here. The different idea of the Apartheid wall arose specifically in Europe among the Jewish communities, which were called ” ghettos “, back then the walls symbolized a mean of protection and isolation for the Jewish communities from the European Christian community, with that said, the other side of the wall deals with its’ existence with great neglect, or let’s say its’ not dealt with it at all. Additionally, if one was to make a comparison between prisoners dating, documenting and counting their days and a Palestinian living in the West Bank, it might be correct to an extent regarding a certain aspect, although (in my personal opinion) such comparison – in other aspects- is far from accuracy and objectivity since the only space exposed to the prisoner’s eye is his own cell’s wall, versus the many walls in the Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps under the collective imprisonment which in its turn contributes in binding our identity with a cement surface constructed on our land against our will.

Graffiti is a street act, whoever has the talent can shine it on the walls, and such an act doesn’t make him an artist as much as it makes him a citizen with a reaction taking a form of a message. It can be said that artists are intruders on such an act. If the massage started fading from the art work, or if the art work itself was placed in an art gallery instead of the street, it will lose its’ main concept as an act of revolution and will only contain the visual message.

One can point out that the similarities between the Apartheid wall and the famous Berlin wall – that separated the socialist bloc represented by East Germany with Berlin as its capital, and the capitalist imperialism represented by West Germany with Bonn as its’ capital – are similar by the name but not by the concept. Consequently, the reasons behind establishing the Berlin wall have their own political determinants which are based on the rules of the Cold War between the two poles of the world at that time. Moreover, the Berlin wall separated people from the same flesh and blood, let alone its height in comparison with the Apartheid wall.

This point of view might not be generalized among the streets, nor upon a person spontaneously holding a spray paint can unleashing his or her fury with slogans and terms against the Apartheid wall, but at least such point of view can be brought out to those international graffiti artists who pilgrimage to our country to support our cause, in this case their art work should be on the other side of the Apartheid wall were the establishers would be able to see it. At last, I do not intend to mention the source of the cement or the labor as much as I intend to mention the decision makers who took the initiative to establish the Apartheid wall in the first place.