The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) remembers world-renowned Palestinian artist Kamal Boullata, who died aged 77 in Berlin on August 6th, 2019. Born in Jerusalem in 1942, Boullata experienced first-hand the plight of military occupation at the hands of the state of Israel. From an exceedingly young age, he was forced to witness atrocities that most would deem unthinkable.
While he always took a special interest in the arts, it was the pain of being forced out of his home country due to the Israeli occupation of the War of 1967 that truly fueled his artistic ascendance and coming-of-age.
Through his grit, passion, and determination, Kamal Boullata was able to secure the opportunity to study the arts abroad in such culturally significant cities as Rome and Washington DC. Though his physical body was elsewhere, Boullata’s heart and soul still very much resided in Palestine— and his art reflects this. Being in diaspora, Boullata desperately yearned for the homeland, as he spent countless hours as a student indulging in Palestinian art and poetry.
A pioneer in his field, Kamal Boullata was able to take what he saw as the best of both the old and new styles, and fuse them together to create masterpieces that have the ability to unite us all. Specifically, he was able to cleverly combine traditional Arabic calligraphic imagery with the more geometric, Western modernism. In doing so, Boullata gracefully touched on such sensitive themes as Palestinian identity and the hardships of exiles. His work spoke to a collective struggle not just of his fellow Palestinians, but of displaced peoples the world over.
Indeed, Mr. Boullata will be dearly missed and we at the ADC sincerely mourn this immense loss. But though he has passed away, his vast influence shall surely live on. His works can be found showcased in such prestigious institutions as the Library of Congress, the British Museum, l’Institut du Monde Arabe, and many others. In fact, we at the ADC had the honor and privilege of having Kamal Boullata design our logo. We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to him for personally gracing our organization with his talent.
We should all consider ourselves lucky to have inhabited this Earth at the same time as Kamal Boullata, and may we bear the wisdom to look to him as a role model and an example.