The Fake Child Artists of Gaza
In Toronto there is an art exhibition called “A Child’s View of Gaza.” The description states:
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is delighted to announce the presentation at Alternative Grounds Café of a fascinating exhibition of drawings by children from Gaza. The exhibition — A Child’s View from Gaza — features 26 drawings by Gaza children from 5 to 14 years of age, created during the course of art therapy.
Each drawing reflects different aspects of a child’s life in Gaza and the impact of the ongoing blockade on their daily lives. A Child’s View from Gaza also offers a child’s perspective on the Israeli offensive against Gaza, which took place from December 27th, 2008 to January 17th, 2009. Each drawing is unique in its perspective and details.
When these pictures were shown in Oakland last year, they did not appear to be drawn by children, or at the very least some of them may have been drawn under the heavy influence of adults who created the motifs for children to copy. One obvious example was this one:
It is a direct copy, with a lot of standard anti-Zionist embellishments, of a poster by anti-semitic cartoonist Carlos Latuff (top left).
However, other pieces seem to be way too sophisticated to have been drawn by children at all.
Here is a selection of a few of the pictures:
I asked a few art experts their opinions on these drawings.
An art professor said:
The authenticity of the painting is remarkable for a child’s hand. The drawing of the planes and helicopters, the man in the tower, the dynamic brushstrokes that are well conceived and controlled all seem to project a more mature approach to art. Could these “children” be in their late teens, college age, or young adults [MECA says they were 9 to 11 years old]? According to the the quote, “much of the artwork was produced by children.” I wonder how “much”? Also, it is possible that the “children” were directed by an adult who supervised and perhaps completed the initial drawing?
A long time avocational artist said:
The sureness of the color application — especially in the dense, complicated scenes (which are obviously all done by the same person) — is at variance with the primitive (faux-primitve, frankly) nature of the sketching. It’s the use of color especially that gives it away to me as the product of an older person. But the complexity of the composition in the big scenes is uncharacteristic of 9-11-year-olds as well. Certainly the politicized content is atypical.
The sureness of stroke in these pictures is something you almost never find from a very young artist. The biggest giveaway I see in this regard is not actually in the complex, refined drawings, but in the more primitive ones. For example, the confidence with which the concertina wire is sketched in, in one of the primitive crayon drawings, is just not characteristic of the young. I was accounted an exceptional artist in my K-12 years, and I couldn’t have achieved that confident, bold, rapid-stroking effect until I was at least 16. It’s one of the hardest things to do, and you really do lack the coordination and focus for it when you’re younger. A kid would draw that laboriously, with a lot of short, stubby strokes strung together — or he would simply achieve a cruder, less symmetrical and more tentative effect.
These drawings don’t look like those of unusually accomplished children. They look like trained artists imitating the style of a child.
An art teacher and art historian wrote:
[These] pictures indeed does not resemble children’s art, especially not of elementary school age.
The first picture: the space is depicted in a very sophisticated way, with overlapping structures that decrease in size as distance increases. The use of contour lines is nowhere close to the ability of a nine year old. And a dead giveaway of an adult artist: the clouds and shading AROUND contour lines. A child would never do that.
The second picture: it seems to me that an adult artist drew the outlines and let a child fill it in with color. The stark, securely drewn outline, the cutoff houses and the effective composition do not look child like at all. Children don’t build the human form from an unbroken outline.
Fourth picture: sophisticated use of one point perspective, very effectively positioning of the vanishing point at an asymmetric angle. Although the artist tried to add “childish” elements (the sun in the corner, anthropomorphic trees, clumsy figures), the whole composition was planned by an adult.
In short, I am convinced that adult intervention and planning were heavily involved in the production of these pictures.
The nearly unanimous opinion is that many of these pictures were not drawn by children. (One can also compare these drawings with an earlier exhibit of Gaza children’s drawings from 2002 to see the huge difference in quality.)
There is one other element that calls the authenticity of these pictures into question.
What is the first thing a child will proudly do when he or she finishes a drawing?
Why, they sign it, of course.
Yet not one of the pictures is signed.
One would think that a children’s art exhibit showing such precocious examples of drawing would want to publicize the names of the artists – and elaborate on their own personal stories from which sprung such eloquence and experience. The artist’s story is often more compelling than the art. But, for some bizarre reason, we are deprived of this information. Could it be that the organizers don’t want the children to be interviewed?
Or is it simply that the children’s involvement in these works was minimal to none?
One anti-Israel website even tried to explain away this omission, adding the interesting “fact” that these art workshops must have only been occurring after sunset:
The art was often drawn and painted in the dark, because of limited electricity and frequent power outages. The names and ages of the artists are unknown, as Israel’s siege made it difficult to even get the art out of Gaza.
Really? Kids can spend an hour drawing an intricate picture but cannot find the ten seconds to write their names?
Astonishingly, this exhibit has traveled across the US and Canada in the past nine months, and not once has anyone asked the exhibitors to prove the provenance of the artwork. The emotional component is so compelling that it doesn’t even occur to the venues (or reviewers) that they might be victims of a hoax.
From all available evidence, however, that is exactly what these pictures appear to be. And the venues that are showing these pictures (as well as the book that was released with the pictures) are part of the deception.