Fatma Shanan, born 1986, lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel. She is a graduate of The Art Institute at Oranim Academic College, Kiryat Tivon (2010).
Shanan focuses on realistic, large scale painting, mostly in the technique of oil on canvas. Her works are characterized by a theatrical and enigmatic view on scenes, whose participants belong to the various circles of her life, especially surrounding Julis, the Druze village where she was born and raised. Her art strives to deconstruct firm definitions concerning painting as well as gender and national and ethnic identities and to suggest more fluid definitions that can flow through different realms.
Shanan is the winner of the 2016 Haim Shiff Prize for Figurative-Realist Art awarded by the Tel Aviv Museum where her fourth solo exhibition will open in the summer of 2017. She has received several other awards and scholarships for her artistic achievements, among which the Artis Project Grant for 2016. Her works are included in the collections of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, The Ilana Goor Museum in Jaffa and private collections in Israel and abroad.
The themes and motifs of my works reflect the strata of my identity as a young Druze woman in Israel; however, they take the further step of deviating from the auto-ethnographic path, and my art examines questions of identity and place while investigating issues of representing space and action in painting. I strive above all to create a space for the production of art and to establish this space via art. The recurring motif of the rug in my work serves as a test of my efforts. A rug denotes space; it is a signifier that expresses itself in autobiographical, cultural and artistic “signifieds” that are readable in light of their origins in both the aesthetic and the political space.
My work strives to deconstruct firm definitions concerning painting as well as gender and national and ethnic identities and to suggest more fluid, even hybrid, definitions that can flow through different realms. Some of these issues are expressed in works in which the craft of painting seems to have been interrupted and the completeness expressed in this cessation, in the sense of standing at a threshold, is revealed, through the unfinished yet finished painting. This quiet, measured transition has an additional property that finds expression in the open atmosphere of the painting, in which the construction of the image is paired with the colorful deconstruction of the density of the preparatory photographs I use. The viewer discovers this imagery slowly and incrementally, as it lures them to linger and spend much more time in front of the painting than they initially intended.
I am influenced by the 19th and 20th century European traditions of realistic painting, but at the same time I strive to deconstruct the substrate of the painting using abstract stains. Through this, I wish to examine questions of identity and place in a broader cultural context vis-à-vis Israeli painting and art history, and use my ability to express myself in painting and to make a social statement.