Invited to take part in an exhibition in Tel Aviv, Beijing artist Liu Xiaodong traveled to Jerusalem, Hebron and Ramallah with the aim of observing Arabs and Jews in Israel and the West Bank. He kept a diary and took photos, eventually creating 20 expressive paintings, mostly small diptychs, over 15 days. Half of them capture everyday life in Israel, while the other half depict a bleaker existence in the occupied territories.
Layered with fluid brushwork, the pieces are sequentially numbered, beginning with In Between Israel and Palestine 1, which shows a Jewish teenage girl reading Hebrew scriptures at the Wailing Wall. The second canvas portrays a young female Arab in a crowded interior setting. And so it goes.
A scene of Jews dining expansively on a rooftop overlooking Jerusalem is succeeded by a similar one of Arabs lounging outside a desolate house. The bleakest pairing is also the most abstract, with Jewish youths in a park followed by beige and blue monochromes—suggesting a Palestinian alternative of barren land and empty skies.—Paul Laster