This Gazan Artist Tells the Story of Palestine Through Beautiful Henna Paintings

We all know the famous and beautiful art of henna. But have you ever seen it being used for real paintings? Me neither until I stumbled across Fatima al-Ghoul, the 36-year-old Gazan artist, who uses henna to paint historical buildings.

“Since henna is part of our culture”, Fatima tells Reuters, “we chose to draw these Palestinian cities in henna, because the color of henna is the closest color to mud.”

Hopefully most people already know henna art. If this isn’t the case, I’ll give you a little bit of information. Henna is a kind of paste you can put on your skin and hair to temporarily color your skin or hair. This art form is usually found in the Arabic, African and even Indian culture.

As I already mentioned, Fatima paints important historical buildings but also refugee camps. This is her way to express her thoughts on the Palestinian situation.“I specifically paint the Palestinian cities and the refugee camps because we are working on a project to make an album about the Palestinian cause.

Sadly it is rather difficult to get your hands on painting materials in Gaza, not to mention the power cuts in the conflict-torn area. “I [also] face difficulties in obtaining henna. It is not always available on the market. The constant electricity cut also has an impact on how long it takes me to finish the painting”. These problems and the fact that she paints four to five hours a day make it an extremely physically exhausting job.

Lucky for her, she has been able to sell her paintings for quite a lot of money, this way she is able to fund her exhibition in 2020 called ‘Earth and Henna’. This exhibition would too be on the Palestinian living situation. This project is a unique art form which targets a very important topic and should get a lot of attention.

We can’t wait to see more from her!

Written by Maurane Dierckx

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Born and raised in Belgium, Maurane is a small girl with a big passion for art, history and people. She is trying to make the world a little bit brighter one laugh at a time!