Ismail Shammout 1930-2006

Ismail Shammout was a great father, a man of wisdom and a humanitarian in every sense of the word. He contributed a great deal through his writings and works to his beloved Palestinian people and to humanity as a whole. I find it difficult to choose one specific thing he said or done by which to remember him. However, if I had to make the choice, perhaps I would choose something he wrote in his latest book “Palestine the Exodus and the Odyssey”:

Title : Self Portrait
Material : Oil on canvas , 40 X 50 cmYear : 1985The Artist collection, Amman

They said “I think … therefore I am”
I say ” I am … therefore I dream…”
Would life have a meaning if it was void of dreams?
Dreams are as free as freedom itself.
And we know our dream

Yes, we do; but we are still dreaming it.
We know it as a sacred Homeland like a sacred rite
We know it deep in its poetry, music and colour.
But it’s even more magnificent with its people and its land.
ALL it people and ALL its land.

Bilal Ismail Shammout


1930 Born in the city of Lydda, Palestine.

1948 Forced to abandon his birthplace and take refuge in a refugee camp in Khan-Younes, Gaza Strip.

1950 Enrolled in the College of Fine Arts in Cairo.

1953 Set up his first exhibition in the town of Gaza, (29th July 1953) the first exhibition ever to be held by a Palestinian artist in Palestine (his brother, Jamil, took part in this exhibition).

1954 Opened his major exhibition in Cairo,with the participation of the Palestinian artist Tamam Aref Al-Akhal, a colleague then, and currently his wife. The exhibition was sponsored and inaugurated by Egyptian President Jamal Abdul-Nasser, on the 21st July 1954.Moved to Italy and joined the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome.

1956 Moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where he lived and worked in various artistic and cultural endeavors.

1959 Married his artist colleague, Mss. Tamam Al-Akhal.

1965 Joined the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as Director of Arts and National Culture.

1969 Elected as first Secretary General, Union of Palestinian Artists.

1971 Elected as first Secretary General, Union of Arab Artists.

1983 Moved from Beirut to Kuwait with his family, following the Israeli aggression against the PLO in Lebanon.

1992 Moved to Cologne, Germany, following the Gulf war.

1994 Settled in Amman, Jordan, where the artist resided till his death in 2006.


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