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Friday, October 22, 2021

Stitches represent scars in Beirut blast survivor’s art show

Born in Syria and now based in Beirut, 33-year-old visual artist Majd Abdel Hamid embroiders fabrics he collects and items he finds, from cushions to kitchen towels

By: Reuters | Brussels |
October 8, 2021 12:00:38 pm
Palestinian artist, Palestinian artist Beirut blastPalestinian artist Majd Abdel Hamid who fled the war in Syria and studied in Beirut only to survive the 2020 Beirut blast during his exhibition "A Stitch in Times" in Brussels, Belgium. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)

Palestinian artist Majd Abdel Hamid, a survivor of the 2020 Beirut blast, has opened his first solo show in Brussels this month, with displays of embroidery and video installations to convey the passage of time.

Born in Syria and now based in Beirut, 33-year-old visual artist Majd Abdel Hamid embroiders fabrics he collects and items he finds, from cushions to kitchen towels.

At times colourful and at other times just white on white, they are designed as an abstract depiction of time and the places he has been, touching on wars, political and economic crises and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Palestinian artist, Palestinian artist Majd Abdel Hamid, Majd Abdel Hamid artist Palestinian artist Majd Abdel Hamid at his exhibition “A Stitch in Times” in Brussels. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)

“It’s been like an acceleration of traumas. It’s not even one trauma that you have. It’s been quite challenging to process what has happened and how can you deal with it,” Abdel Hamid told Reuters TV.

Abdel Hamid was injured in the explosion of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut port in August 2020, with wooden fragments still stuck beneath a scar on his head. The embroidery stitches in his “A Stitch in Times” represent mental and physical scars.

The show at an exhibition space of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermes, at the back of the Hermes store in Brussels will be the first showing of all his work.

Palestinian artist, Palestinian artist Majd Abdel Hamid, Majd Abdel Hamid artist The embroidery stitches in his “A Stitch in Times” represent mental and physical scars. (REUTERS/Yves Herman)

Abdel Hamid describes embroidery as a “timeless medium”, a slow process of doing and undoing. One display piece, “Salt of the Earth”, show threads suspended and crystallised by salt.

Another shows him unthreading white bed sheets in his home.

“Embroidery is always used to celebrate the pride of a country, the pride of the family, it’s about motifs. When you embroider raw reality, dramatic situations or violence, it creates tension,” he said.

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