Artist of the Month - Hisham Zreiq

Hisham Zreiq (Zrake) was born in 1968 in Nazareth to a Palestinian family. After finishing school, he studied computer science, and now works as a software developer, but his heart is where his art is. In 1991, he started doing computer animation. He used those same tools when he started doing graphic art using the computer in 1994. In 1996, he started exhibiting his work in galleries and museums. In March 2001, he went to Germany, where he now lives with his wife and son and works as a software architect, artist, and filmmaker.

In 2006, he started his film career with the documentary, The sons of Eilaboun, and in 2009 he made his first short fiction film Just another day, followed by Before You is the Sea in 2011.

Zreiq’s art is his perspective on life, pains, disappointments, happiness, and his philosophical look at life. He uses extensive symbolism and metaphors in both his visual art and films. One example is the cross that symbolises punishment and sacrifice, as Jesus was punished and sacrificed his life. His art is somehow surrealist, and looks like it was extracted from a dream-like world. The intensity of emotions cannot be ignored, and captures the eyes of viewers, encouraging their minds to wander. His pieces are powered by strong composition and powerful representation of colour.

Zreiq used his art to decorate the scenes in his short film, Just Another Day, and the scenes have the same look as his art. The film, Before You is the Sea tells the story of a young Jewish woman and a young Arab man in love, but it is also an allegory for the Middle East peace process when the Camp David Summit abruptly broke off, effectively sealing the fate of the Oslo negotiations.

In both his art and films, Zreiq reflects what he sees and what he experiences in a very powerful and emotional way. One of the best examples is the documentary, The Sons of Eilaboun, about the massacre, expulsion, and return of the residents of a small Palestinian village in the Galilee. But it is a kind of a personal film as well; a film that tells a story that influenced Zreiq’s life, even though it happened twenty years before he was born. When he explained his motivations for the film, he choked and his eyes were full of tears. With a trembling voice he said, “I remember it as if it had just happened.” This is the way he ended the story, the story of a nine-year-old boy from a small village called Eilaboun (Eilabun), in Palestine in 1948. It is the story of his father when he was a refugee.

Zreiq has just finished writing a script for a new short film. He is planning to start writing his first long film, and the most important thing he is planning to do is to finish a longer version of The Sons of Eilaboun. In the coming years, he is also planning to film a fiction film that tells the story of his father during the 1948 war, a fiction version of The Sons of Eilaboun, focusing on his father’s childhood