Beauty and Identity | Toufic Abdul-Al
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Beauty and Identity

The Woman: An Icon of Identity and Beauty

Early on Abdul-Al showed a boldness in portraying women, highlighting and stressing their own self, their femininity and their motherhood. Moreover, she is a fundamental symbol of the land, of revolution, of freedom and always of sensuality. Critic Khalil Safia believes that the recurring presence of the woman reveals that she is an integral part of his philosophy and therefore omnipresent in his works. The woman in a selection of his works wears the Palestinian costume or flag, or blends in colour and composition with Palestinian landscape. In other works, she is the main subject, emotionally torn, while her body remains a subject of beauty and contemplation. In his oil works, her body is painted in earth colours, with distinct lines and noticeable curvatures, hence asserting the woman’s symbolic role as a carrier of emotions and states of mind. She is distressed, sad, affectionate, passionate, sensual. Even in nudity works, Abdul-Al did not divert from his vision of the solid relationship between her body, and the longing to a lost land. The woman in his works is the lost homeland and the desired body at once. Paradoxically, in most works by pioneers of Palestinian art, the woman was a metaphor for the homeland, often appearing with a headscarf or in traditional long dresses hence relinquishing her human character and her sensuous role.

During his childhood years in Acre, children were allowed to accompany mothers to Al-Pasha Bath. As narrated by Ali Khalaf, the public bath was famous for its glass decorated dome, copper kettles and its rounded chandelier. Dozens of his women paintings are inspired from the bath visits.