<strong>Laila Shawa</strong>, <em>Fashionista Terrorista II</em>, 2011. Mixed media with Swarovsky beads on canvas, 130 x 100 cm. Ed. of 2. (From <em>The Walls of Gaza III</em> series.)<em>Laila Shawa: The Other Side of Paradise</em>, 2012.<strong>Laila Shawa</strong>,  with <em>Where Souls Dwell</em> (AK47 Gun). Photo: © Malcolm Crowthers.


Laila Shawa.
Photo: © Heini Schneebeli, 1990.
Laila Shawa, Target (detail), 2008.
Digital print on canvas, 100 x 160 cm. Edition of 1.
(From The Walls of Gaza series, 1994.)

Shawa’s formal art education was at the Leonardo da Vinci School, Cairo and the University of Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts. She also attended the School of Seeing in Salzburg, established by Austrian artist Oskar Kokoschka. In 1964, back in Gaza, she supervised arts and crafts education for UNWRA while working with the documentary photographer Hrant Nakashian. She co-founded the Rashad Shawa Cultural Centre. As an artist, Shawa’s concern is to reflect the political realities of her country, becoming, in the process, a chronicler of events. Her work is based on a heightened sense of realism and targets injustice and persecution wherever their roots may be. The initial impetus for a piece often comes from her photographs, which are later transformed by means of silkscreen printing techniques. The written word is often present in her work, as in the acclaimed Walls of Gaza series (1994), which focussed on the heart-rending messages of hope and resistance spray-painted, by the ordinary people of Gaza upon the walls of their city.

In 1994, October Gallery first showed Shawa in the exhibition Shawa and Wijdan, a critical exhibition which presented works by both artists. Her 2012 solo exhibition at the gallery, The Other Side of Paradise, showed sculptures and paintings that continued her uncompromising documentation of events in today’s Middle East. She is represented in public and private collections across the world, including the National Galleries of Jordan and Malaysia; the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK; the British Museum, London, UK; and the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., USA.

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View below for career highlights and works for sale by the artist.









Born in 1940, Gaza (British Palestine).  Lives and works in London, UK.
1957 - 58   School of Art Leonardo Da Vinci, Cairo, Egypt
1958 - 60   Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma, University of Rome, Italy, BA Hons Fine Arts
1960 - 63   Summer Courses under Austrian Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka, School of Seeing, Salzburg, Austria
1960 - 64   Scuola di Arti Ornamentali San Giacomo, Rome, Italy. Diploma in Plastic & Decorative Arts
Selected Solo Shows
2019 Laila Shawa- Open Studio, with Janet Rady Fine Art, London, UK 
2012 The Other Side of Paradise, October Gallery, London, UK
2011   Trapped: A Female Suicide Bomber, Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France
2010-11   Sarab (Mirage), The Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE
2010   Arabopop, Articulate Baboon Gallery, Cairo, Egypt
2008   Sarab (Mirage), Atrium Gallery, DIFC, Dubai, UAE
2000   In the Name of God: Crucifixion 2000, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK
1994   The Walls of Gaza Series II, The Library, SOAS, University of London, London, UK
1992   Women and Magic, The Gallery, London, UK
1990   Women and the Veil, Jordan National Gallery, Amman, Jordan
1975   Of Horses and Cities, L’Antiquaire Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
1972   Exhibition at Sultan Gallery, Kuwait City, Kuwait
1971   Cities of Gold, Dar Tunis, The Tunisian Cultural Centre, Beirut, Lebanon
1970   Laila Shawa at the Vendome, Hotel Vendome, Beirut, Lebanon
1968   Exhibition of drawings by Laila Shawa, The Book Centre Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
1965   Contrast and Difference, Marna House, Gaza, Palestine
Selected Group Shows
2020   Art of Palestinian Women, Museum of the Palestinian People, Washington DC., USA
2019   Dream No Small Dream: Celebrating 40 Years of the Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
Intimate Terrains: Representations of a Disappearing Landscape, the Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Palestine
Group Show, Gallery of The Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Palestine
2018   Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
2017   Transvangarde 2017, October Gallery, London, UK
2015   Art15, with October Gallery, London, UK
Autonomous Gallery: The Conflict and Future of Middle East, P21 Gallery, London, UK
2014   Art of Palestinian Women, Museum of the Palestinian People, Washington DC., USA
35 YEARS OF TRANSVANGARDE: Contemporary Art from Around the Planet, October Gallery, London, UK
Beirut Art Fair with Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
Bridge to Palestine, Mark Hachem Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
Sky Over The East, Barjeel Art Foundation and Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Fundation, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Art14, with October Gallery, London, UK
2013   Art Dubai, with October Gallery, London, UK, Dubai, UAE
Muslima: Muslim Women's Art & Voices, muslima.imow.org
The World of Extraordinary Objects, October Gallery, London, UK
Abu Dhabi Art, with October Gallery, London, UK, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Art13, with October Gallery, London, UK
Resilience and Light, Studio 3 Gallery, University of Kent, Kent, UK
Between Desert and Sea, a selection from the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan; Pera Museum, Istanbul, Turkey 
2012   The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society, The Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey, USA
Refractions, P21 Gallery, London, UK
AKA Peace, Phillips de Pury, London, UK
AKA Peace, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK 
2011   Passport to Palestine, La Scatola Gallery, London, UK
    Contemporary Art/Arab & Iranian, Sotheby’s, London, UK
Art Dubai, with October Gallery, London, UK, Dubai, UAE
2010 - 11   Miragens: Contemporary Art in the Islamic World, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, touring to : Sao Paolo,
Brasilia, Brazil
2010   Sajjil, A Century of Modern Art, Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar
    Co-incidence, Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, France
    Crunchtime: Artist’s Responses to the Global Crisis, International Visual Arts Event, York, UK
Concerning Angels, Janet Rady Fine Art, London, UK
Art Dubai, with October Gallery, London, UK, Dubai, UAE
2009 - 10   Contemporary Calligraphic Art from the Arab World, Nabad Gallery, Jabal Amman, Jordan
2009   Middle Eastern and European Art, the Recessionists, Somerset, UK
    Arabesque: Arts from the Arab World, the Kennedy Centre, Washington, DC, USA
Art Dubai, with October Gallery, London, UK, Dubai, UAE
2008   Arab Print, Edition I, Meem Gallery, Dubai, UAE
    Routes, Middle Eastern and Arab Art, Waterhouse & Dodd, London, UK
    Roads Were Open, Roads Were Closed, Third Line Gallery, Dubai, UAE
    Mediterraneo, Italian Cultural Institute, London, UK
    Spring Show, October Gallery, London, UK
    Word into Art, a British Museum touring exhibition, The Atrium, DIFC, Dubai, UAE
2006   Word into Art, British Museum, London, UK
    Text Messages, October Gallery, London, UK
2005   Walled In: Walled Out, Laila Shawa and Noa Lidor, Green Cardamom, London, UK
2003   Religion, Art and War, Maison Des Artes, London, UK
    Transvangarde: Contemporary Art from Around the World, (October Gallery), Kulturbrauerei, Berlin, Germany
2002   Between Legend and Reality, Modern Art from the Arab World, Reykjavik Art Museum and Akureyri Art Museum, Iceland
    From the Ocean to the Gulf and Beyond: Arab Contemporary Art, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
2002-11   Breaking the Veils: Women Artists from the Islamic World, exhibition organised by the Royal Society of Fine Arts, Jordan, and Pan-Mediterranean Women Artists Network F.A.M. (Femme-Artist-Méditerranée) based in Greece which travelled throughout Europe, Australia and USA
2002   A Thousand Ways of Being. Memory and Presence in the Arts of Diasporas, October Gallery, London, UK
    Masterstrokes: Contemporary Arabic Calligraphy, October Gallery, London, UK
    Transvangarde, An Artistic World Wide Web, October Gallery, London, UK
2001   Twelve Arab Artists, Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
1998 - 00   Art Beyond Borders, UNESCO and TIMOTCA (The International Museum of Twentieth Century Art); UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France; Mitra Municipal Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal; Las Vegas Art Museum, USA
2000   First International Forum for a Culture of Peace by Pan-Mediterranean Women Artists Network, Rhodes, Greece
1990 - 00   Dialogue of the Present, Hot Gallery, Bath; Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth;
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London; Pittshanger Manor Gallery, London;
Brighton University Gallery, Brighton, UK
1998   Mediterranea, Grand Palais, Brussels, Belgium
1997   Artistes palestiniens contemporains, Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
1996   Transvangarde, October Gallery, London, UK
    Contemporary Arab Artists, the World Bank Gallery, the World Bank Building, Washington DC., USA
    The Right to Write: Calligraphic Works from the Collection of the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, The Dalton Gallery, Agnes Scott College, Decatur,
Georgia, USA
1995 - 97   The Right to Hope, One World Art, UN travelling exhibition starting in Johannesburg, South Africa
1995   Contemporary Middle Eastern Art, John Addis Gallery, British Museum, London, UK
    Artists’ View, The Arab World, Willamette Arts Gallery, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, USA
1994 - 95   Forces of Change, Artists of the Arab World, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Dudley House, Lehman Hall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; The Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago Illinois; Wolfson Gallery and Central Gallery, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami Florida; Nexus Contemporary Art Centre, Atlanta, Georgia; Bedford Gallery,Walnut Creek, California; Gwinnett Arts Center, Duluth, Georgia, USA
1994   Shawa and Wijdan, October Gallery, London, UK
    From Exile to Jerusalem, Al-Wasiti Art Centre, Jerusalem, Israel
1993   Exhibition of Limited Prints Editions at SAGA, Salon de l’estampe et de l’édition d’art à Tirage limité, Grand Palais, Paris, France
1992   Three Artists from Gaza: Fayez Al Hasani, Kamel al Mughanni and Laila Shawa, The Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan
1990   Malaysian Experience, National Art Gallery of Malaysia,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
1989   Contemporary Art from the Islamic World, Barbican Centre, London, UK
1988   The Baghdad Biennale, Saddam Centre, Baghdad, Iraq
1987   Arab Women Artists in the UK, Kufa Gallery, London, UK
1968 - 78   With Palestinian Union of Artists, based in Beirut, exhibitions in most
Arab countries, North Africa, Russia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Europe,
UK and USA
Public Collections

The National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The National Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan
The British Museum, London, UK
The Museum of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland
The Arab Bank Limited, Amman, Jordan
The Palestinian Union of Artists, Beirut, Lebanon
The Kuwait Fund, Kuwait City, Kuwait
The Rashad Shawa Cultural Centre, Gaza, Palestine
The Khaled Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan
The National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington DC, USA
The Qatar Museum for Contemporary Middle Eastern Art, Mathaf, Qatar
The Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
The TIMOTCA, Las Vegas, USA
The World of Islam Festival Trust, London, UK
The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK
The Burrell Collection, Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland
Dalloul Art Foundation (DAF), Beirut, Lebanon
DIFC, Dubai, UAE
Spazio Brazzà, Moruzzo, Italy
The Benevolent Society, Gaza, Palestine

Selected Book References
Khal, Helen. The Woman Artist in Lebanon, Catholic Press, Lebanon, 1987
Ali, Wijdan. Contemporary Art from the Islamic World, Scorpion Books, London, UK, 1988
Shammout, Ismail. Art in Palestine, AI Qabbas Press, Kuwait 1989
Laila Shawa, Works 1965- 1994 AI-Hani Books, 1994
Forces of Change, Artists of the Arab World, Washington D.C., USA, 1994
Bahnasi, Dr. Afif, Pioneers of Modern Art in the Arab Countries, Dar Al-Raed Al-Arabi, Beirut
Shawa and Wijdan, October Gallery, 1994, Amica Press
The Dictionary of Art”, Macmillan Press, 1996, UK
The Right to Hope, Earthscan Publications Ltd., 1996, UK
Impressions”, H. Aschehoug & Co., 1996, Norway
The Right to Write, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, USA
Artistes Palestiniens Contemporains, Institute Du Monde Arabe, 1997, France.
The Space Between Our Footsteps, Simon & Schuster, 1998
Dialogue of the Present, Woman’s Art Library, 1999
Mediterranea, Art Life 1998, Brussels, Belgium
Twelve Arab Artists”, The Werled Museum, 2001, Netherlands
Between Legend and Reality, Aurora Art Museum, Reykjavik Art Museum Iceland  2002 
From the Ocean to the Gulf and Beyond: Arab Modern Art”, The Royal Society of Fine Arts, 2002, Amman, Jordan
Breaking the Veil, The Jordan National Gallery and FAM, 2002 Rhodes, Greece
The Word into Art The British Museum 2006/2008
Meditarraneo, A Sea that Unites, The Italian Cultural Institute, London 2008
Sarab , DIFC, Dubai 2008
Impossible Dreams, the work and Art of Laila Shawa, SkIRA Books, Milano, 2009
Contemporary Art in The Middle East, ArtWorld, Black Dog Publishing, London, UK, 2009
Brodsky, Judith and Olin, Ferris. The Fertile Crescent; Gender, Art, and Society. Institute for Women & Art, 2012