Located on the first floor of a traditional 1930’s Arab house, with its arched façade overlooking Zahra Street in the heart of Jerusalem’s commercial centre, The Palestinian Art Court - Al Hoash is a non-profit Palestinian cultural organization, with the mission "To provide and sustain a space for Palestinians to express, explore, realize and strengthen their identity through visual practices." It was established at the end of 2004 by a number of Palestinian enthusiasts who sensed the crucial need for a professional body to revive and preserve visual arts, being a major part of the Palestinian cultural identity.
Lead by Rawan Sharaf for the last 7 years, the institution built its reputation as one of the leading addresses for Palestinian art in Jerusalem. After building the strong base, the new management now aims to sharpen the program and define its focus.
"Al Hoash has to react on the shifting topics in contemporary art field and reflect upon the social-political circumstances, the Palestinian art world and our organization are confronted with, " notes the new director Alia Rayyan. "In 2014, we open up the organization to the paradigm of visual culture and will present a program which will focus on visual collective memory and the interaction between art and public space." Both topics connect directly with the fundamental issues of the Palestinian society and art scene which is that of a shattered cultural and national identity and a shrinking interaction between the individual and the collective.
In March, Al Hoash plans to open up its space to the street by launching the Platform, a welcoming knowledge based hub and meeting place to increase the public access to art archives, data base and library, which can also be used for meetings and talks. The idea is to follow a deliberately innovative approach, combine the format of a standard art bookshop with a showcase for young Palestinian designers and a series of frequently held artists’ talks and discussion. The aim is to bridge the gap between Palestinian art scenes, created through the ongoing fragmentation and political and social separation of the Palestinian society.
"Al Hoash" means "the courtyard," the choice of this name for the art space was not arbitrary. The name has a special meaning for Palestinians, it refers to the central courtyard in the traditional Palestinian homes where the extended family meets and greets their guests, an informal salon that is open at all times. Al Hoash was established to house a comprehensive collection of Palestinian art and to fill the need for community-based art center that serves the diverse sectors of the community. Its current location in the heart of East Jerusalem is ideal for that purpose; moreover, it is surrounded by several schools, public service organizations, hotels and is accessible to residents of Jerusalem.
Since its beginning, Al Hoash is working with Yvette & Mazen Qupty art collection, an extremely valuable collection dedicated to Palestinian art. It contains over 250 works by prominent modern and contemporary Palestinian artists produced throughout the twentieth century. It includes works by pioneering pre-1948 painters such as Tawfiq Jawharieh, Sophie Halaby, and Nicola Saig, in addition to iconic works by established and contemporary Palestinian artists. In 2014, Al Hoash plans to open a permanent exhibition with selected works from the Yvette & Mazen Qupty collection, to increase the accessibility to these for the public and to expand Al Hoash as an address for Palestinian art in Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Art Court Al-Hoash
Zaitouna Bldg, 7 Zahra Street
Director: Alia Rayyan