“The tragic condition of Arab women is the central issue in Fatma Abu Rumi’s visual works. Though many of the portraits are self-portraits, Abu Rumi is not talking about herself but about all of the Arab women.” from Museum of Islamic Art’s website

Exhibition notes

Comprised of a group of paintings, and three video works, Abu Rumi’s work is sad, sweet and deeply compelling.


“She can convey her feelings though her art, and clearly doesn’t give a hoot about the flak she has to parry in the process. ‘I need my art to put my thoughts and feelings across’, she states. ‘I think that if I didn’t have that, I would be very frustrated and angry, and maybe even violent’.” (Barry Davis, in review on Museum of Islamic Art website)


Abu-Rumi seems to call on traditional elements of portait painting, only to twist them slightly into a contemporary view of herself: the female artist, who is also Arab, Muslim and living inside Israel.  The accompanying exhibition guide, along with a handful of reviews make the feminine-Arab-Muslim aspect the key thing in her work – yet I felt there’s a more subtle possibility, too. Her work could also speak to the Occupation and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, in that as the link between man and woman often is, the relationship between the two nations is a marriage of sorts, broken down under the dominance of the stronger half. Yet the side assumed to be the weak one, continues to resist oppression and protests, speaks her mind.

Perhaps that this exhibition is shown inside of Israeli museum suggests there is a sympathy with her plight, ordinarily quashed but allowed in an artistic guise.

More information

Exhibition details: Between Sorrow and Beauty is on 18 July 2012 through 31 July 2012, at Museum of Islamic Art, Jerusalem. Paid admission. (accessed 6 October 2012)