The Land and I
Introduced by
Abdul-Rahim al-Shaikh
Curated by
Rana Anani
مؤسسة الدراسات الفلسطينية
Publication Year: 
Number of Pages: 

This book presents a selection of the artworks by artist Nabil Anani that explores the natural landscape in Palestine from the beginning of the 1970s until t today, encompassing over 183 works. The book serves as a chromatic record of the Palestinian landscape and a key source of inspiration for Anani during his artistic career spanning five decades. During this journey, the natural landscape in Palestine has undergone radical changes within the context of ongoing Zionist colonial attempts to dominate the Palestinian land. Therefore, Anani’s book is a visual documentation of the Palestinian natural landscape over the years, countering the continuous attempts to obliterate and alter the Palestinian topography.

The book is introduced by Abdul-Rahim Al-Shaikh, the renowned poet and professor of philosophy and cultural studies at Birzeit University through a study titled “He Sees What He Wants” that contemplates Anani’s artistic odyssey of capturing the essence of the Palestinian landscape. The essay encompasses seven distinctive topics that interrogate the intellectual, poetic, theoretical, political, social, cultural, and artistic dimensions of Anani’s artworks. Through his insightful analysis, Al-Shaikh proposes that the book serve as “an exercise in looking at the Palestinian body that became a landscape, and the landscape that became a body,” echoing the wisdom of Abu al-Ala’ al-Ma‘ari: “My body is a rag to be sewn to earth, oh tailor of beings, sew me,” in a beautiful tale narrated with love and war, that has no beginning and no end.”

The artworks were chosen by curator Rana Anani, to reveal the accumulative stages of Anani’s creative journey, underlining the development of his study of color and form, and his varied experiments with techniques, including the use of organic materials from the land and his ongoing experimentations with textures, compositions and repetition of elements on the surfaces of his paintings.


Born in Latrun, Palestine, in 1943, Nabil Anani is a key founder of the contemporary Palestinian art movement. Anani graduated in fine art from Alexandria University, Egypt, in 1969. Upon his return to Palestine, he began a career as an artist and a teacher-trainer at the UN College in Ramallah. Anani held his first exhibition in Jerusalem in 1972 and has since exhibited widely in solo and group shows locally, and in Europe, North America, the Middle East, North Africa, and Japan. His works are held in many museums and private collections, including the Agha Khan Museum in Canada and the Jordanian National Museum. A multitalented artist, Anani works as a painter, ceramicist, and sculptor. He has pioneered the use of local media such as leather, henna, natural dyes, papier-mâché, wood, beads and copper and, over the past four decades, has built an impressive catalogue of outstanding, innovative, and unique art. Anani is also the co-author of a number of books on Palestinian arts and folklore. He was awarded the first Palestinian National Prize for Visual Art in 1997 by the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. He became the head of the League of Palestinian Artists and played a key role in establishing the first International Academy of Fine Art in Palestine. In 2006, Anani was awarded the prestigious King Abdullah II Arab World Prize for Fine Art. He lives in Ramallah, Palestine.

Abdul-Rahim al-Shaikh is a poet, professor of philosophy and cultural studies at Birzeit University, and senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies. His work is focused on poetics, theory, and translation, with a special emphasis on the representations of Palestinian identity in prison, camp, and cemetery. His latest publications include: The Drawer of the Circle (2024), Conceptualizing Modern Palestine II (2023), and The Other Voice: An Introduction to the Phenomenology of Metamorphosis (2021), all in Arabic. Currently, he is working on two ongoing projects: “The Palestinian Living Cemetery” and “Parallel Consciousness: Walid Daqqah’s Prison.”

Rana Anani is a curator, writer, and researcher on visual arts and culture. Her articles are published in several forums in Palestine and the region. She was the Head of Communication of the Palestinian Museum, the Project Manager of Qalandiya International 2018, the coordinator of the Palestinian Pavilion at Cannes Film Festival, and an Associate Curator of Sharjah Biennale 13 off-site project “Shifting Grounds” in Ramallah. Currently, she is the editor of the website of the Institute of Palestine Studies, Ramallah/Beirut.