Samia Halaby

de-coding colors, Exhibition view 2023, Sfeir-Semler Gallery Karantina

de-coding colors, Exhibition view, Sfeir-Semler Gallery Karantina, 2023

Samia Halaby (b.1936 in Jerusalem) is a Palestinian-American artist, and scholar living and working in New York.  
Halaby is a painter who was educated in the 1950s in the American Midwest, at a time when abstract expressionism was popular, but female abstract painters were often overlooked. While her work is very much in line with American art movements she evolved with, it is today central to the study of abstraction and its sources within the contemporary Arab visual language. In her practice, she methodically studies the textures, surfaces, and colors of her surroundings, through the prism of her ongoing theoretical studies. Looking at the effect of light on the aspect of objects around her, or creating illusions of roundness on plane surfaces, she continuously investigates how the human eye sees and records the world. In the mid-1980s, her time as a visiting artist at the University of Hawaii marks a turning point in her exploration of motion. The constant flux she tries to capture on canvas pushes her to break free from the traditional rectangular fabric. Playing with time, space, and movement in her work, she produces large installations that extend beyond the canvas edges, shaped and cut-out canvases, three-dimensional mobiles, and unconventionally large paintings that force the viewer to walk alongside them. Using the most advanced tools available to her at the time, Halaby teaches herself coding, and starts in 1986 to program kinetic paintings on an amiga computer, even coding sound into several. These experimentations with computer-generated visuals naturally evolve into the Kinetic Painting Program, through which she transforms the keyboard of her PC into a live digital painting instrument. In over six decades Halaby has produced an immense body of work and is a very particular, innovative figure within her generation of artists. Understanding what parts of a painting the eye will first see, and how our mind will record the visual, she constantly foregrounds works and techniques and, in retrospect, was at the avant-garde of artistic production throughout her career.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2024 Fragments of time - paintings & digital works, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg, Germany (forthcoming)
2023 de-coding colors, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon
Lasting Impressions: Samia Halaby, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
2017 Documentary Drawings of the Kafr Qasem Massacre, Birzeit University Museum, Ramallah, Palestine
2015 Five Decades of Painting and Innovation, Beirut Exhibition Center, Beirut, Lebanon
2006 A Useful Magnificent Language: The Work of Samia A. Halaby, Tompkins County Public Library, Ithaca, New York, USA
2000 Sakakini Art Center, Ramallah, West Bank, Palestine
1995 Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan
1983 Housatonic Museum, Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
1972 Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Selected Group Exhibitions

2024 Foreigners Everywhere – 60th Venice Biennale
2023 Grounding Light, Manar Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Small World, Taipei Biennial, Taipei, Taiwan
2022 Natasha, Singapore Biennale 2022, Singapore
Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, Block Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA
2021 Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, USA
Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, Boston, USA
2020 Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s, NYU Grey Art Gallery, New York, USA
2019 Intimate Terrains: Representations of a Disappearing Landscape, Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Palestine
Grand Opening, Palestine Museum, Woodbridge, Connecticut, USA
Between two rounds of fire, the exile of the sea, Katzen Art Center, American University Museum, Washington DC, USA
Jerusalem Lives (Tahya Al Quds), The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Palestine
Enfolding and Unfolding: Geometric Abstraction in Motion, School of Visual Arts, New York, USA
2016 This Sea is Mine, 3rd Qalandiya International Biennial, Palestine
2015 Rituals of Signs and Transitions (1975 – 1995), Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan
Self: Portraits of Artists in Their Absence, National Academy Museum, New York, USA
2014 Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE
2009 Palestine: La création dans tous ses états (Palestine: Creativity in all its Generations), Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
2007-08 Keep Hope Alive, The Olive Project, traveling exhibition: Ethnographic and Art Museum, Birzeit University, Palestine; Al Hoash Gallery, Jerusalem, Palestine; Japan Bank Building, Hiroshima, Japan; Maruki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
2003 Made in Palestine, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Texas, USA
Breaking the Veils, traveling exhibition: UNESCO, Paris, France; Rhodes, Greece; Athens, Greece
2001 Couleur Palestine (Rhythms from Palestine), Le musée du Château Dufresne, Montreal, Canada
1998 Palestinian Art, The Royal Academy of Art, Stockholm, Sweden
1994 Forces of Change, National Museum of Women, Washington D.C., USA
1991 Digitized and Manipulated, Sangre De Cristo Arts Center, Pueblo, Colorado, USA
Art And Algorithm, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, USA
1990-91 Hilo International Exhibition Works on Paper, University of Hawaii, Hilo, USA
1989 Tercero Bienal de la Habana '89, Havana, Cuba
1985 TAMARIND: 25 Years 1960-1925, traveling exhibition: University Art Museum,
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA 
1982 Palestinske Kunstnere (Palestinian Artists), Kunstnernes Hus, Chiristiansands Kunstforening, Christiansands, Norway
1981 Palestinske Kunstnere (Palestinian Artists), Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Norway
1979 Contemporary Arab Artists II, Iraqi Cultural Center Gallery, London, United Kingdom
1977 Contemporary American Printmaking, Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Contemporary American Prints, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
1975 Tamarind Prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA
Recent Acquisitions, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
1974 Nine Connecticut Artists, The Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
1973 American Drawing, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
1969-70  Six Faculty Artists, Indiana University Museum, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
1966-71 Art in The Embassies Program, Department of State & The National Gallery, Washington D.C., USA
1965 Art of Two Cities - Kansas City and Minneapolis (Purchase Award), traveling exhibition: Time-Life Gallery, New York, USA

Selected Performances

2019 Performance, Kinetic Painting Group, Bernie Wohl Auditorium, New York, USA
1998 Performance, Kinetic Painting Group, The Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Performance, Kinetic Painting Group, Lincoln Center, New York, USA
1997 Performance, Kinetic Painting Group, Philadelphia College of Art, Philadelphia, USA
Performance, Kinetic Painting Group, Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan
1994 Performance, Kinetic Painting Group, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Public Collections

  Alternative Museum, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; Dalloul Art Foundation, Beirut; Darat Al Funun - The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman; Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit; Center for the Arts, Vero Beach; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland; Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Hempstead; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi; Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu; Indiana University Museum, Bloomington; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Kalamazoo Institute of Art, Kalamazoo; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Mead Art Museum, Amherst; Memphis State University Art Collection, Tennessee; Michigan State University Museum, East Lansing; The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; The National Museum of Jordan, Amman; The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.; Nelson Rockhill Gallery of Art, Kansas City; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs; Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City; Speed Art Museum, Louisville; Tamarind Lithography Institute, Albuquerque; The Jane Voorheese Immerli Art Museum, New Brunswick; The University Gallery - Memphis State University, Memphis; University of Michigan, Kalamazoo; Yale University Gallery, New Haven


2014 Samia Halaby: Five Decades of Painting and Innovation, Edited by
Maymanah Farhat, Booth-Clibborn Editions, London, United Kingdom
2006 Samia Halaby, Fine Arts Publishing, Beirut, Lebanon (Authors: Inea Bushnaq
and Samia Halaby)


1963  MFA, Painting, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
1960  MA, Painting, Michigan State University, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
1959  BS, Design, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA