The hotel surrounded by the wall has announced the results of its fifth art competition to encourage young artists, which is held under the slogan "Imagine Freedom." Four artists won the top three prizes, with two of them sharing the third prize equally.
The first prize was awarded to Jihad Jarbou, an artist from Gaza who was unable to participate in the competition's final ceremony held at the hotel surrounded by the wall. The second place went to Sabreen Markar from Bethlehem, while the third place was shared between Alaa Al-Baba from Jalazone camp in Ramallah and Bashar Nistass.
The announcement of the competition winners took place in the presence of several prominent Palestinian artists, members of the special judging committee including the artist Suleiman Mansour, Nabil and Taysir Barkat, the exhibition curator George Al-Ama, the director of the hotel surrounded by the wall, Wisam Salasaa, and a large number of young artists and their families.
At the beginning of the announcement of the winners, Salasaa welcomed the audience and discussed the details of the competition, which has become an annual tradition at the hotel and the exhibition, contributing to enhancing the art scene in general and encouraging young artists in Palestine. He mentioned that the competition initially had nearly a hundred young artists participating in its early stages, which was then reduced to twenty paintings by the judging committee. The exhibition for the competition was opened, and public voting was initiated for the paintings. The winning paintings were then selected by the judging committee, taking into account the percentage of votes alongside the decisions of the technical committee.
Salasaa also mentioned that the exhibition managed to sell half of the paintings displayed at the competition exhibition at very good prices to foreign and local visitors. This is significant as it contributes to boosting the economy of young artists and encourages them to continue their artistic pursuits. He also pointed out that the exhibition for young artists from Gaza managed to sell many of the displayed paintings for the benefit of the artists.
Salasaa thanked the hotel and exhibition's board of directors for their constant support and presence. He emphasized the importance of the collaboration and announced the four winners, with two of them sharing the third prize. He expressed sadness for the absence of artists from Gaza due to the occupation's restrictions.
On the other hand, George Al-Ama, the exhibition curator and one of the members of the judging committee, stated that the selection process was very challenging because all twenty paintings were of high quality. The voting turnout was also very high, with approximately 1500 participants, prompting the judging committee to focus on the value and content of the paintings and their alignment with the competition's theme.
Al-Ama revealed a positive shock among the judging committee members due to the high level of artistry displayed by the young artists. This reflects our people's ability to nurture promising young artists, both male and female.
On his part, the renowned Palestinian artist Suleiman Mansour stated that the art competition at the hotel surrounded by the wall holds significant importance as it has breathed life into the art community. It has fostered a positive competition spirit among young artists, their admirers, and art enthusiasts, evident from the increased voter turnout.
Suleiman emphasized that this competition has created a bridge between generations by highlighting artists over five years, thereby contributing to the development of young artists. He expressed gratitude to everyone for their attendance and support for the art movement, with special acknowledgment to the management of the hotel surrounded by the wall.
Nabil Anani , another member of the judging committee, commented that the competition is highly significant because it targets young artists. He noted that senior artists support young artists through this competition after reviewing their artworks and getting to know the emerging talents.
Anani pointed out that while four artists won prizes, there are many others with exceptional skills and creativity who should continue to be nurtured. The focus is on empowering and promoting young artists.
In turn, the artist Taysir Barkat stated that culture and art reflect the societies they emerge from. He pointed out that culture and art continue to thrive in Palestinian society despite the challenging political circumstances in Palestine. He emphasized that culture reveals the spirit of the people and their capacity to contribute.
Barkat expressed pride in this new generation of artists who will carry the torch forward, progress, and create. He also expressed his happiness in having institutions that support and embrace these talents.
The artist Sabreen Markar, Who won second place in the competition expressed in an interview with the Palestine News Network (PNN), her great happiness at winning the second place in the competition, which was of a very high standard. She stated that she feels proud that her artwork was chosen among the high-quality entries. The competition's theme was "Imagine Freedom," and when she decided to participate, she thought about the concept of freedom. She explained that freedom holds special significance in Palestine, where Israeli occupation measures restrict it with walls, barriers, and borders. Therefore, she chose to depict the Earth, symbolizing the idea of taking a journey around it to gain an impression of the extent of Israel's oppression of freedom.
On the other hand, the artist Bashir Anistass from Bethlehem Who won third place in the competition expressed his gratitude to the exhibition management and the hotel surrounded by the wall for their efforts.
He also thanked the judging committee in the competition's management. He explained that his participation was driven by his desire to align with the competition's theme. He chose to depict a sense of inner freedom, distancing himself from life's constraints due to the occupation. He emphasized the importance of breaking free from the comfort zone to be able to express oneself.
He added that breaking free from internal constraints may bring about pain, but despite that pain, it is necessary to understand the concept of freedom, starting from within ourselves and then striving to break free from material constraints in life.
In the end, the winners of the cash prizes were announced, with the hotel management awarding 5,000 shekels to the first-place winner, 3,000 shekels to the second-place winner, and 1,000 shekels to the third-place winner.