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Artist Nabila Hilmi’s retrospective exhibition on show at Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts

By JT - Jun 28,2022 - Last updated at Jun 28,2022

An artwork by Nabila Hilmi on display at the Jordan National Gallery (Photo courtesy of the Jordan National Gallery)

AMMAN — Under the patronage of HRH Princess Wijdan Al Hashemi, the retrospective exhibition of the artist Nabila Hilmi opened at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine arts - Building 1 on June 9. 

The exhibition is open until July 20, according to a statement from the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.

Jerusalem-born Hilmi (1940-2011) lived much of her life in the US. She received a BA in Fine Arts (with High Distinction) from Beirut University College in 1983. She also studied at the Art Students League between 1981 and 1986 in New York and completed the three-year programme (Philosophy of Art and Art Appreciation) of the Barnes Foundation (1994) in Merion, Pennsylvania. She is an award-winning artist. 

Her works were exhibited nationally and internationally at the National Museum of Women in Washington, DC, the Nexus Contemporary Art Centre in Atlanta, the Balch Institute in Philadelphia, Tucson Museum of Art, The Presidio in San Francisco, the Museum of the Southwest in Texas and White Columns Gallery in Manhattan.

Hilmi’ works were also exhibited in Italy, Jordan, Germany, Tunisia, Bangladesh and Sweden. In 2001, she was featured on the National Geographic Channel part of the “Women of the World” exhibition.

A longtime member of the Foundry Gallery, Hilmi used mixed media. Colour and light played an important role in her work. Often using the figure as the basis for abstract explorations of form and colour, her work possessed a delicate sensuality and grace. Layers of recurring, rhythmic lines and shapes, convey the flow of time, its sequences and imprints, the statement said.

Much of her work is untitled and undated, ranges over several decades and goes from expressionism to abstraction. 

Additionally, Hilmi’s style included inserting bits of paper and text to her work, which added depth and spontaneity.

“I was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Egypt and lived in Lebanon and Jordan before settling in the United States. These countries often ingrained deep within me a strong sense of time, space and history,” the statement quoted her as saying. 

“People and places, often abstracted, fill the space of my works. They move freely in a world with no frontiers: Bring memories of people and places from past experiences. They reflect the need to live in the moment, to take hold of time and space,” she added.

“Through the years, I have come to realise that my work reflects the many places I had lived in and what these places mean to me. I paint my world, a world tamed by me to embrace my visual memories, past experiences and aspirations, I paint people’s motion in time and space, their constant emotional migration and their search for close, secure relationships within loose boundaries and their own free space,” she added.

Hilmi, one of the most renowned Palestinian female artists in the United States, has left “an invaluable treasure of artistic masterpieces”. 

Her works were exhibited nationally and internationally in major exhibitions including “Powers of Change: Artists from the Arab World” at the National Museum of women in the arts in Washington, DC, in addition to the exhibition “Invisible” that took place as part of the Arab American National Museum’ Inauguration.

Most of her artworks are housed at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and Darat Al Funun.

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