20th Century Art / Middle East

20th Century Art / Middle East

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 21. LAILA SHAWA | THE WELL.


Lot Closed

March 31, 01:20 PM GMT


18,000 - 25,000 GBP

Lot Details



b. 1940



signed and dated Laila Shawa '67

oil on board

80 by 50 cm.; 31½ by 19⅝ in.

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Collection of Hamman R. Shawa, Jordan (gifted directly by the artist in 1980)

Acquired from the above by the present owner

“The first painting made in Beirut not long after the devastating June war and the only known work of this type from 1967, The Well forgoes all allusion to landscape in favour of a hot expansive background of reds and yellows. Beneath the disc of a searing sun - a visual element recurring throughout Shawa’s oeuvre - three exhausted women in traditional garb with water urns, the diminutive well of the title and a bulky, masculine mosque, are strewn across the picture plane. Although it leans on works made for the 1965 Marna House exhibition in Gaza, such as Family (1965), the expression of isolation and suffering, a focus on architecture and the unmooring of compositional elements are new. This is a rare transitional work, prescient of the highly successful series of cities commenced in 1968 and, of a focus on the psycho-politics of women. The latter was explored in contiguous works under the umbrella title On Marriage and Prostitution, a highly expressionistic and controversial series of paintings, but abandoned only to be revisited and explored extensively after 1987.”

Laila Shawa in conversation with Christa Paula, January 2020