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The master artist preserving Jerusalem's history

The master artist preserving Jerusalem's history
From Al Jazeera - January 3, 2018

Jerusalem, occupied West Bank - In his small and cramped studio, Shehab Kawasmi moves carefully around piles of centuries-old photographs, stacks of drawings and thick books.

A realist painter, Kawasmi uses his brush to draw hundreds of historic and religious landmarks in Jerusalem's Old City, the place where he was born and raised.

"I feel it is my duty as an artist to preserve the history of our city for future generations," said the Palestinian aritis, who has dedicated his life's work to depict the rich history of his city.

Born in 1959 in the holy city's Chain Gate neighbourhood, just a few steps away from al-Aqsa Mosque, the Palestinian painter grew up surrounded by Jerusalem's numerous monuments.

For him and his friends growing up in the 1960s, these iconic landmarks were their playground, a place of affinity and inspiration.

Ever since his teenage years, the Old City, with its ancient landscape, interlinked souqs and Roman, Christian and Islamicarchitecture, has always luredKawasmito recreate it on canvas.

"I used to draw Jerusalem landmarks for friends and family as gifts, but later on they encouraged me to do it professionally and full time, and this is how I started my Jerusalem collections," he said.

Kawasmi has so far published a number of books with his creations and hasexhibited both at home and abroad.

His vast collection includes drawings of intricate artwork from insideal-Aqsa Mosque, Ottoman architecture, Christian landmarks, churches and ancient archaeological sites.

They are all based on his own observation of the famous landmarks, as well as photographs he has taken of them.

Kawasmi has also assembled a vast collection of old photographs of many of Jerusalem's historical and religious places dating back to the previous centuries.

His latest book, Kan Yama Kan, or One upon a Time: Jerusalem before a 100 years, has more than 70 black and white realistic drawings depicting the Old City's history and religious significance.

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