Residential Block: An exhibition by Rafat Asad

White Phosphorus 

This collection of works was produced in 2009 following the late 2008 war launched by the Israeli occupation on the Gaza Strip.

Amidst thousands losing their life, I was unable to create any artwork. Shackled by the pain and horror of what was taking place, I turned to writing and produced a group of texts before I could return to painting and creating this collection.

Phosphorescent White

For dolls in childhood
the taste of brides in their twenties,
and white jasmine.

White is for dreamers
and brides,
and for knights with their white horses.

In Gaza
white is for kids,
the ashes are theirs too,
and for the dolls.

On the Mediterranean coast,
near home,
was a child dreaming,
of a doll,
on a Mediterranean stroll,
wearing clothing of white
on their steed.


Gaza Hello 

“Gaza Hello. Currently, the district destination is closed. Please try again later thank you.”

The stifling siege on Gaza cuts off all means of life. Fuel entering the blockaded Strip is vital to allowing life to go on, especially as it makes generating electricity possible. With only limited quantities of fuel allowed to enter, electricity has been cut off for long hours at a time, during which the residents of the Gaza Strip live in suffocating darkness.

This has been the case for decades, even before this 2023 genocidal war that has now added another dimension of calamity. Not satisfied with cutting Gaza off from the rest of the world physically, the occupation war machine is working to isolate Palestinians in Gaza metaphysically. It is doing so by targeting the telecommunications network to sever the last remaining thread between us and our people in Gaza.

Orange Hue

A small child looking out the window says:
Oh my God, how beautiful is the sky
when it turns orange?!

Why do you blush at night?
Is it shyness?

It is horror, my child.
A man of sixty-four years old answered,
It is bloody murder.

It is iron in the sky,
not taking into account you or me,
takes its frustrations out on us,
then retreats.

We monitor it.
How does it do it?
How does it mix red and yellow?
To unleash upon us the orange that:

Kills children,
women and men,


Unnatural Landscape

The occupation used cement for unnatural purposes. This material, from which we build our homes to take shelter and provide us with safety and security from the cold and heat, has been made murderous, their missiles turning ceilings into rubble on the heads of the people who had been living under them.

Death Has a Heart of Stone

O death beware thyself!
Beware the dead
and their loved ones.

the poet,
the poem,
and the word.

for you are alone, so alone.
you have no father,
nor mother,
nor child,
nor brother, nor sister.

the children
still breastfeeding,
not yet crossed the distance to the breast.
Beware their voices.

white shrouds
raised hands
gathered masses
a single date
mothers’ ululations

O loner.


Residential Block

Since this attack on the Gaza Strip, as the occupation continues to kill, destroy, and commit horrific atrocities, our actions as Faraway People have been restricted to closely observing death, counting its victims, and listening to the cries of the bereaved on a cold and dark night.

But he has left!

Dressed in white,
he returned.

Now finished,
his last delirium from
heart’s wine,
he returned.

Dancing along
To the hymn of loss
present in the last scene
of the last dance,
he returned.

Waving a white hand
with a smile,
he returned

Leaving us with what remains
of air
for us,
he has left.

Rafat Asad

A Palestinian artist born in Nablus in 1974. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Al Najah University in 1998 with a focus on painting and photography. While primarily a painter and photographer, Asad has also produced light and sound installations in addition to video art and performances. Taking abstract painting as his point of departure, his work has evolved to focus on the Palestinian landscape through a minimalist style with personal touches on the range between realism and abstraction.

Asad participated in group exhibitions including the 11th Havana Biennale, Cuba (2012); Colors of Life, Zawyeh Gallery (2014); The First Alexandria Symposium for Mediterranean Arts, Alexandria, Egypt (2015) and many other important group exhibitions in Palestine, Europe, Japan, the U.S and the Arab World. His works have been shown at solo exhibitions including Narrative, at the A. M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah (2006); Maps at the Delfina Studios Trust, London (2006) as part of a residency programme; an exhibition at the Slade School of Art, London (2012); and Cite des Arts, Paris (2015). Additionally, he was part of the Shatna workshop in Jordan (2007); and the summer arts workshop in Styria, Austria (2009).

Asad is also the co-founder and artistic director of Al-Mahatta Gallery, chair of the board of directors of the Balata Cultural Forum and a member of the Palestinian Artists’ League.

He currently lives and works in Ramallah.