Zainab al-Qolaq tells the story of 22 family members killed in Gaza war through painting


Zainab al-Qolaq lost 22 family members during the 2021 war in Gaza. Now, she keeps their memory alive through painting.

Zainab Al-Qolaq with one of her paintings depicting the figure of death

Tareq S Hajjaj reports in Mondoweiss:

Zainab al-Qolaq stands in the middle of her nine paintings, surrounded by people, cameras, and questions from journalists. She moves to the corner, answering in a quick fashion. She seems nervous and insecure, until the moment her father shows up. He puts his arm around her shoulders, and then her eyes stabilize and she gets the power again to proceed.

“It is easy to get rid of the rubble of our home, but the destruction inside my heart, that is impossible to eliminate, I lost 22 members of my family,” al-Qolaq, the 22-year-old survivor of the May 2021 war on Gaza, says. She told her story through the nine paintings she displays on the walls of Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor in Gaza, during a two-day exhibition in May.

“I’m 22 years old, I lost 22 people,” is the title of the exhibition.

These nine paintings that al-Qolaq produced after the 2021 war look like war trauma. Her home was bombed last war, and she lived beneath the rubble for 12 hours. She wished she had gone unconscious during these hours under the walls and rubble of her home, but she lived every frightening second of them. Eventually, she was rescued only to find that 22 people from her family were gone.  “After I was pulled out, I couldn’t open my eyes. I wasn’t able to understand all that destruction around me,” she said.

“Zainab before the war is a different person than Zainab after the war,” she reflects.

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