Artist Spotlight: Abdul Rahman Katanani

Abdul Rahman Katanani is a third generation Palestinian refugee, who grew up in Sabra refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, and experienced a childhood surrounded by poverty and trauma. The year before his birth over 2,000 Palestinians were massacred in the camp by Lebanese militia, supported by the Israeli army, which deeply impacted his family.
As a teenager, Katanani worked with his carpenter father and painted graffiti throughout the camp, and later went on to study at the Beirut School of Fine Arts. Katanani reached for art to express his frustration and experiences, saying "the Palestinian cause is not a closed circle but a tornado that picks up joys, dreams, energy, people, spinning towards the unknown."
Whether he is constructing impressive installations from razor wire, or exhibiting wall sculptures constructed from metal sheeting and items that he finds around Sabra camp, Katanani addresses themes such as displacement, borders, trespassing, and freedom. At first glance the materials he uses may seem like scraps, but, for him, they represent the survival kit of a refugee: shelter, food, and clothing. He regularly uses old oil drums within his work, which hints towards one of the reasons that the Middle East has experienced decades of conflict, displacement and migration. His large scale installations of waves made from barbed wire represent the dangerous journeys that thousands of refugees have taken across the ocean in search of safety.
Katanani received his French passport in 2019, and now lives between Beirut and Paris.