This virtual studio visit with artist Fatma Shanan took place during her residency at the Fountainhead in Miami, FL, which was supported by Artis. Fatma Shanan was in conversation with Artis’ Director of Programs, Elena Levi, about her work that explores the ways in which nature is revealed as a symbol of freedom. In this context, the subjects in Fatma’s paintings—often the artist, herself—are presented as introspective and resilient.
In her painting practice, Fatma explores complex and personal relationships between bodies, objects, and environments. She also depicts family and community in her paintings, expressing the tensions that play out between individual and collective identities. This, in part, is based on her experience growing up and living in Julis, a small Druze village in northern Israel. Fatma discussed her recent body of work, Leaves of Grass, which was named after Walt Whitman’s 1855 volume of poems by the same name and was on view at Dittrich & Schlechtriem Gallery in Berlin from March 27 - April 25, 2021. Mostly small-scale paintings, this series includes scenes of the artist interacting with, and overtaken by, nature. Fatma also shared ideas for a new series of paintings inspired by the ocean that she developed during her residency at the Fountainhead. In sketches for these works, Fatma imagines her body and water interacting in surreal, integrated, and exploratory ways.