Never Ending Art Trip






Update of Artist In The Wolrd trip in East Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem (April 2016), inivitited by the Netherlands Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority (NRO) in Ramallah.
written by Herre Methorst

Invited by The Netherlands Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority (NRO) in Ramallah.
--The Netherlands Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority (NRO) in Ramallah.

Today was a hectic day. We have visited a lot of people and had good conversations with them about Israeli and Palestinian artists.The subject was not easy and we found out that it is impossible to make a connection with the two worlds. It is all to fragile and delicate with to much emotions. But André thinks about focussing on both sides and then he will see what happens. In our journey this morning we found a very good location for the event. In first André wanted to hold the end show in Al Ma’mal in the old city of Jerusalem.
They were very pleased to have the show and André was also enthusiastic about the venue. But later on we visited an other and even better location in East-Jerusalem Dar Isaaf Nashashibi centre for culture, arts and literature in Shiekh Jarrah close to Peter's residence. The most important reason is the accessibility to the venue with Pesach and it is in East-Jerusalem. This is now the place were André has his end show on Thursday the 27th of April at 6.30 PM. Tomorrow we will talk about more details with the head librarian Mrs. Dua’ Qirresh. And we will give you a new update about the never ending art trip of André.

Dar Isaaf Nashashibi
--Dar Isaaf Nashashibi, East Jerusalem

Today was a very hot day. With a lot of water and some bread we went early in the morning to the office in Ramallah. It was very nice to introduce André to Henny. She heard a lot about André’s project and it was nice to finally shake hands with him. A pity that we couldn’t make contact with the artist Sliman Mansour, his mobile apparently ran out of batteries. Tomorrow his phone will work he promised so André has a next chance to meet him. Wadi went with us to Dar Isaaf Nashashibi centre to meet Dua’ Oirresh and to finalize all the details for the 28th of April reception. After a nice lunch (thank you Wadi) we went to the Israél museum to meet the curator Rita Kersting. André made pictures of her in the new exhibition “The Distance of a Day” she has set up. On our way back to East-Jerusalem we made a stop over to contact the director of the Palestinian Heritage Museum and Dar Isaaf Nashashibi centre Mr. Khaled Khatib. A very friendly man who was very straight and to the point. Wadi promised him to make short briefing to get an approval for the event. After a first “no” for painting the artwork of André directly on the walls came a clear “yes” by Mr. Khatib. He was convinced by the uniqueness of André's project. That gave us a good feeling. Main challenge now is to get to the artists! We have a long list to contact.
P.S. Regarding the invitations for the reception and the press coverage, Wadi will take care of that together with Dar Isaaf Nashashibi centre. As for the catering: the art gallery cannot cater for the event, so a different caterer has to be approached and contracted by NRO. Who will be in charge of that at NRO?

--Dua Qirresh

Today was a very inspiring day. It was full of stories and great philosophical conversations with three outstanding Palestinian artists. First of all we met Sliman Mansour, one of the most important and influential figures among contemporary Palestinian artists. His mobile phone was charged now so André gave him a call. We met him in his new studio, opposite Musallam hospital in AlBireh, which provides him with a better atmosphere to work in than his previous studio in East-Jerusalem. The building will be turned into a big art-centre were young and old Palestinian artists can live and work. The project was initiated by the artist Jawad Al Malhi, together with Sliman. Silman revealed his new art-work for us which he made in assignment for the Arafat memorial museum. A beautiful piece of art. Talking about the conflict gave us again the sad feeling that the end of it is still far behind the horizon and almost unreachable. André took photo’s of Jawad in his nearly empty white studio with one table and a few big paintings and sculptures. Jawad told us that his work was exhibited in The Hague in 2008. After a long morning with these two artists, we went to East-Jerusalem to meet Ahed Izhiman in his Art-Lab. A very lively, fresh and talkative man, a painter and a photographer and one of the co-founders of Al Ma’mal Lab. Now my mobile phone is empty, I have to go home to fill it with energy again so André can use it to make new appointments with other inspiring artists.   

--Wallhouse (

Today was a one artist day. But first the more encouraging aspects. In the morning Randa gave me the draft for the invitation with the creative suggestion to add artwork of André. On my way back to Jerusalem I picked up André to go to Dar Isaaf Nashashibi centre to discuss with Dua’ Oirresh the invitation and the end show. An old lady joined us. She told me that she lives next to Henny and Wietze, maybe she is the owner of the building, but I am not sure about that. She was very enthousiastic about the project and seemed to have a crush on André. Dua, with all her enthousiasm, wants to arrange a musician playing the lute during the end-show. So not only the eyes will be challenged but also the ears. André decided that artists can join him in drawing the mural during the show day. He will leave an open space for them. 
Around twelve o’clock we had to go to Bethlehem with the plan to meet three artists. After the nasty checkpoint I showed André “Wallstreet" with all the different artwork on the wall. He was very impressed by this abnormal piece of almost 10 meter high grey concrete separating people. Clair Anastas, the owner of the closed-in house, was not there. Her husband John told us that she was in the Netherlands to address the Dutch parliament. 
Our first appointment with Hani Amra went wrong: we could not reach him by mobile. And the second artist, Johnny Andonia, informed us he broke his leg. So only one artist left for the day, Bashir Qonqar. We met him near the Nativity Church in the centre of Bethlehem and had a cup of tea with him. After he finished his ownmade sigaret, we went to his studio near the Saint Nicholas church in Beit Jala. A great studio in an old historical building. Bashir Qonqar is educated in Germany and lived and worked there for seven years. As an artist he doesn’t want to belong to the Palestinan art scene. With two other artists they call themselves "The Donkey’s" which is a statement against the established Palestinian artists. At the moment four of his paintings are shown in the Al Ma’mal art-centre in Jerusalem. He cannot be there himself because he has no permit. 
One artist a day keeps the audience away. So more work has to be done.     

--Overlooking Bethlehem (photo: Herre Methorst)

Today was an impressive day. A morning in East-Jerusalem with empty roads and no people. Friday is a day of rest and praying for the Muslim community. So our art-journey started very relaxed with a cup of coffee in the beautiful tropical gardens of the Christmas hotel. My mobile was ringing, "hello, who is speaking?” “Klep Dwk” “Whoo is speaking?" I asked again. "Taleb Dweik the artist, please come to the Mount of Olives, there we can meet so you can follow me to my studio”. Taleb Dweik is one of the well known and established Palestinian artists, born in Jerusalem in 1952. He studied Art and Design in Egypt and is founder of “Al-Wasiti Art Center”. He showed us his bright and colorful paintings, full of symbolism. “In my paintings you always see the sun or the moon” he said.  He also showed me old leaflets from the late eighties. Those were the days that Israeli and Palestinian artists still worked together. The exhibition “Down with the occupation” took place in June 1987 and was organised by the Association of Artists for Freedom of Expression. Famous artists such as Aron Ben David and Yehoshua Borkovsky were in the leaflet, next to Fathi Ghaban from Gaza with the work “Wounded Dove". A mix of more than fifty Israeli and Palestinian artists joined in this exhibition. "How about now?" I asked Taleb. "We as artists are still friends”, he said, "but we have not met each other for more than ten years now.” When he spoke this sentence a song of Elton John crossed my mind:  “Its a sad sad situation…” André made a photo of Taleb in his studio. “No not your face, please turn, I picture only your back” André said, (not for the first time this week). After this sunny encounter under the olive tree with sweet arab coffee and zaatar biscuits we drove off, straight into the wall where we took the left turn to Ramallah. There Randa showed us the new and final invitation. In the late afternoon we will go to the opening of an exhibition in “Al Ma'mal” art centre, where we hope to meet more artists.


Today was a crazy lazy day. The opening of the exhibition yesterday in “Al Ma'mal” art centre was still fresh in our minds. We met Ahed Izhiman and some other artists we met before this week. But not Bashir Qonqar who’s paintings were exhibited. He is from Beit Jala and has no permit for Jerusalem. On the roof of the centre most of the people enjoyed themselves with a drink and a chat. The atmosphere was magic in the old city. I spoke to Issa Freij, family of Randa. He is a photographer and video artist. He told me that his filming is about story telling. André got his phone number so he will phone him later for an appointment in his studio. There were a few more artists André spoke to.
Today is Saturday. For us it looked like a lazy Sunday. But in a way it was more crazy than lazy. Work was calling. In the morning we were invited by Wadi and had coffee made by the new coffee machine he got for his birthday. I had to bring Dicky to Ramallah for a work meeting at Musawa, so I dropped André near the New Gate in the old city. His first appointment was canceled so he went to the second one in the Palestinian Art Court Al Hoash. Majd Ammouri was the artist. André told me that it was a very short and curious encounter with her. Picture from the back and rush rush gone she was. So no converstation and no information about her. But this is ok, says Andre. It happens all the time like this, especially with famous people, who get a lot of requests to be photographed. I don’t know if she is famous, but she is a real artist.Tomorrow more than three appointments. Wooh, hope we will sleep well.

--Agenda and invitiation






André Smits

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