Artist research: Rana Bishara

Rana Bishara is a Lebanese born artist who work is mainly based around social and political issues linked to conflict. 

The reason Bishara uses cacti a lot throughout her work is because it has become a symbol of the “Nakbe” which is the name of the time of conflict and tragedy in 1948 in Palestine. The reason for this is that the cacti is resilient with little resources, it can protect its self against danger and can survive even after being uprooted. It was also used as fences to keep enemies off unwanted territory. The cacti is a strong symbol for the Palestinian refugees. 

Her use of calligraphy and typography in some of her work helps support the narrative but also gives the viewer better insight into the message being portrayed. Although the text is not easy to read (which is similar to my own work; as I use it to symbolize thoughts in someone’s head who is angry or struggling like a refugee) some words and phrases are legible and give the viewer an insight into her emotions and thoughts going through the artists mind at the time. 

Her distinct work using Cacti and calligraphy often portrays a message that may not be u sera told straight away at first but when the knowledge of the subject is known; becomes perfectly clear. This is something I wish to add and incorporate into my work more by adding symbols and words that may not at first be understood; however with an explanation becomes clear. 

I have been trying to find a way to make a subtle yet strong impact in my work however have found this difficult. Through the use of calligraphy, Arabic text and clipping from news articles I have tried to achieve this however found that it was sometimes unclear to those who don’t understand the language. I may start to add a caption or title for every piece, in English as to give the viewer a clearer idea of the narrative of the piece but to not give away too much and get the viewer thinking. 


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