Coffee art depicts aspects of Palestinian society

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Palestinian artist Salwa Sbakhi brews a traditional cup of coffee in her Gazan art shop.

But for Sbakhi, it isn’t about getting her next caffeine fix, she uses the leftover mixture in her artwork.

“I came up with the idea because I drink a lot of coffee, so I wanted to use something I drink and draw with at the same time. I also wanted to present something that would differentiate me from other artists,” Sbakhi said.

The 23-year-old artist says she chose to use coffee because it’s cheaper and readily available in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Sbakhi, who studied fine arts in al-Aqsa University in Gaza, has been using coffee as a material for two years.

Most of the coffee based prints are of landscapes and portraits. But Sbakhi says her work mainly focuses on representing the beauty of women.

Since graduating, the Gazan based artist has taken part in a number of local exhibitions, she says it’s now time to have her own solo show, “my ambition is to set up my own exhibition, through which I can use coffee to express all the suffering in Gaza and to also shed light on certain issues as a Palestinian artist from Gaza. Through this, I aim to show the world that there are people with creative skills in Gaza despite the siege,” she said.

The prices of Sbakhi’s art work ranges from 20-30 U.S. dollars.

One visitor said the artist’s visual work illustrates different aspects of Palestinian society.

“Drawing using coffee is a new art in Gaza and it is still not very famous. I think it is nice, great art. I went through the exhibition pictures and I found that drawing using coffee is a wonderful art and it has a spirit to it. Salwa is the first artist in the Palestinian territories who draws pictures using coffee. Her art reflects the Palestinian reality and its beauty,” said Hikmat Yousif.

Israel tightened its blockade on Gaza after Hamas, an Islamist group that refuses to recognize the Jewish state, took power more than five years ago.

But under international pressure, Israel began to ease the restrictions in 2010 and has allowed international aid agencies to import construction material.

To view pictures of Salwa Sbakhi at work in her studio in Gaza City click here.

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