Migrating Bodies is described as “a vivid step away from death and the unknown and into a world full of celebrations.” As you enter the exhibition’s home at Orient Gallery, you are asked to leave your social and political ideologies at the door. This collection, created by Palestinian artist Monther Jawabreh, is not about the details that divide us. Rather, it is about the universal dance we all participate in, hoping that one day we can transcend the trouble and turmoil that plagues our world.

Scenes from Migrating Bodies by Monther Jawabreh at Orient Gallery

There are 19 paintings in total, of varying sizes and colours. But they are united in this: they all depict figures, abstract and alone or interlocked in intimate movements with each other while floating in a sea of striking colours. In some pieces, you can make out arms, feet, torsos, heads, but you are unable to see where one body ends and the other starts. The paintings evoke a sense of constant, rhythmic motion, in search of hope among destruction. This dance is a migration into the uncertain future.

Scenes from Migrating Bodies by Monther Jawabreh at Orient Gallery

Born in Al-Aroub camp near Bethlehem in 1976, Jawabreh began his journey in the arts with painting. As he developed, he explored new mediums of expression such as video and performance, focusing mainly on creating political art that tackles the Palestinian cause, its past, present and future. Migrating Bodies, his first exhibition in Jordan, marks a return to painting, and a departure from despair.

I returned to painting because I needed comfort. The noise became too loud. It started affecting me psychologically. Political issues always involve war, killings, destruction, and I felt that I needed to stop and rest. This exhibition feels like a space for rescuing myself. It holds a hopeful, optimistic outlook.
Monther Jawabreh
Scenes from Migrating Bodies by Monther Jawabreh at Orient Gallery

Jawabreh’s pieces contain depth. If you search behind the motion, the texture, the musical beat, there are also remnants of misery. It is as if he acknowledges the existence of the current reality, but refuses to let it overtake him.

Art shouldn’t always discuss reality. Sometimes we need to dream. Artists should have a vision, a firm belief that something will change. Most artworks discuss destruction. But we need a space of hope, where we can see things in a positive light.
Monther Jawabreh
Scenes from Migrating Bodies by Monther Jawabreh at Orient Gallery

Although he has been practicing art –and teaching art–for years, Jawabreh says he is still discovering himself.

Art is experiment and discovery. There is no specific technique; only a journey to see what you can create. Don’t be afraid to try, and don’t think about what people like or don’t like.
I’m still trying, I’m still experimenting, my work keeps changing. This helps me keep moving, it helps me breathe by expanding into new spaces, and it also helps me discover new arenas and materials. I keep rediscovering myself and the people around me. Art creates a direct and authentic link between you and the people around you, because people are ever-changing.
Monther Jawabreh

And indeed, if you gaze into the 19 pieces that make up Migrating Bodies, you can catch that very same fleeting, ever-changing nature of being human that Jawabreh talks about.

All images courtesy of Orient Gallery