View full screen - View 1 of Lot 19. IBRAHIM NUBANI | RETURNING TO HAIFA.


VAT reduced rate



- 8,000 GBP





- 8,000 GBP

Lot sold:




b. 1961



each: signed and dated 2004-2005 on the reverse

acrylic on canvas, in 3 parts 

each: 120 by 59.5cm. 47¼ by 23½in.

overall: 120 by 178.5cm. 47¼ by 70¼in.

Please note: Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.

To view Shipping Calculator, please click here


This work is in very good condition. Upon closer inspection, there appears to be some slight craquelure to the upper centre left edge of the canvas.

The canvas is sound and well stretched. No signs of restoration under the UV light.


This work is in very good condition. Upon closer inspection, there appears to be a stain to the lower right edge of the canvas.

The canvas is sound and well stretched. No signs of restoration under the UV light.


This work is in very good condition.

The canvas is sound and well stretched. No signs of restoration under the UV light.

The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

A Voyage Through Contemporary Art, 4 Walls, pp.52-53 Amman, 2005

Sotheby’s is honoured to present Ibrahim Nubani for the first time at auction. One of the first students of Abed Abidi, Nubani’s artistic talents should not be diminished and disregarded as a result of fractured social and political considerations.

Born in 1961 Palestinian-Israeli artist Ibrahim Nubani’s life and art embodies the trauma of displacement and lost identity more clearly than most of his contemporaries. That political events played a part in his personal, psychological life as well as in his career as an artist, is an issue he grapples with and discusses publicly.

The title of the work presented here Returning to Haifa’ comes from a book written by Ghasan Kanafani, a renown and respected Palestinian journalist and author. This is significant as Nubani painted this piece in 2005 while living in the city of Haifa.

Nubani’s personal history and narrative is a complex one. He represented Israel in the Venice Bienniale in the 1980s. He was a rising star in both the Israeli and Palestinian art scene until 1987, at the beginning of the first Intifada. It subsequently began to deteriorate. In a sense, he was punished and pushed out of the artistic community: his works were removed from Israeli museums and galleries refused to represent him. Palestinian collectors did what they could to support his career and safeguard his legacy, but it was not enough.

Nubani was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1988 during the first Intifada, a condition which he has spoken openly about, particularly as it relates to his artistic production. The illness manifested itself in seven known suicide attempts. These internal battles were reflected in a sporadic shifting artistic style, which changed enormously from the 1980s onwards, moving from the abstract geometric renderings, for which he was known, to a more modernist style, then began producing canvases with bold expressive paintwork. While he may have explored different movements, his style remained (and continues to be) anchored in the abstract geometric.

From an early stage, he was a victim of circumstance. Nubani was trapped in a liminal space, living in-between the need to assimilate and an inherent desire to relate to a Palestinian identity, and to ‘live fully’ as a Palestinian – he found solace with neither. He was a rising star in Israel’s art world and was pursuing a relationship with a Jewish woman who refused to marry him – the perceived impossibility of existence became too much for the artist.

In an interview with scholar, Ayelet Zohar, Nubani sheds light on what can perhaps be considered a homogenized understanding of Palestinian displacement – many of us may be more familiar with Palestinian refugees who live in exile, in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or in other countries. Nubani is an Israeli citizen, and that carries an additional set of deeply complicated issues.

In 2004, Tel Aviv Museum of Art held an important and successful retrospective of Nubani’s work, entitled ‘In-between’. He is currently living in the village of Al Makker, Israel and continues to produce art