Live Broadcast: An exhibition by Mohamed Saleh Khalil

Massacres in Gaza are not a past event we read about in books and archives, but an ongoing and present reality, unfolding before our very eyes. We watch it happening, hear its loud noise through the airwaves, and see its impact imprinted on people's faces, gestures, silences, and glassy eyes, the light within extinguished. When the world sleeps and we lay our heads on the pillow, the massacre is awake in our imagination, screaming through our dreams.

Geographically, the distance and separation between the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the 1948 territories would disappear in protests. Now the protests gradually vanish from the streets, along with the echoing chants and the interspersed appeals and condemnations. We still remember how a massacre here embodied anger there, and the massacre here, anger there.

This ongoing and unprecedented genocide poses real questions to us: What does one do when witnessing a massacre on television? What if the world's clamour was silenced, and only the cries of annihilation and people's pleas for help could be heard, loud and clear, mere kilometres away? How do we interpret this blood flowing from everywhere within us? Who are we after this gaping wound? How can massacres be in everything we eat and drink, in every cough and where we lay our heads to sleep, but without us being able to restrain and muzzle them? How has genocide been allowed to infiltrate our very existence so that it’s become all we see and all we speak of? How many times is enough for a massacre to be committed in this small piece of land? And when will we say, as one people, that there will be a last massacre?

Live Broadcast, an exhibition by the artist Mohamed Saleh Khalil, does not answer these questions or even come close. He instead chooses another option: to convey reality to us, stripped of embellishments and devoid of adornments. A realistic reality unobscured by the metaphorical, that escapes the screens on which it is broadcast live onto the canvas with an obtrusive honesty, as genocide is clearer than similes, larger than language, and beyond the imagination.

The exhibition embodies the annihilation of Palestine ongoing for decades, through paintings that we can date back at will: to ten years ago, twenty, fifty, seventy-five, and under any overarching topic of our choice: The First Intifada, the Second Intifada, the War on Jenin Camp, one of the wars on Gaza, or even the ongoing genocide today.

The artist connects those witnessing the genocide in Gaza from afar to those bearing witness up close, conveying their voice and image through paintings that all but burst out of their frames to manifest in flesh and blood. The exhibition does not equate between the distant viewers of the massacre and those directly under fire; however, it does leave us with some space to see our past and present within it. Each of us will see themselves, and their loved ones- mother, father, son, daughter, friend, neighbour, in the painting. Without a doubt, Time in the world of these artworks is the time of genocide. It is Palestinian time, confined in the perpetual moment of killing, abuse, and impuissance on one hand, and in the perpetual moment of resistance, steadfastness, and sublimity on the other. It is the time of impotence before the death machine, and the time of insistence on survival and devising new reasons for life.

Mohamed Saleh Khalil - Biography: 

Khalil was born in Al-Zarqa, Jordan in 1960 to parents from Al-Walaja, near Bethlehem, and raised in Damascus. In 1988 he received his MA in Fine Art from Dresden, Germany, specialising in painting, etching, engraving, and printing techniques.

He returned to Damascus and held his first solo exhibition before moving to Nicosia, Cyprus, where he spent the next 5 years developing his skills and participating in several solo and group exhibitions. The year 1996 had a great impact on his life, as Khalil was able to return to his homeland for the first time in his life. He settled in Ramallah, where he established his own studio and founded the Young Artists Forum, where he taught art to talented children and teenagers. He also heads the Fine Arts Program at the Ministry of Culture.

Inspired by German Expressionism, Khalil paints with wide brush strokes and carefully selects the colours to be distributed across his large paintings. The themes of his works are inspired by daily events taking place in Palestine and around the world.