Tears behind a smile..

Posted: March 11, 2014 in New Perspectives: Israel/Palestine

With such a dramatic title you might think this post will be about hard life in Palestine and how people suffer..but no! Even if the situation there is indeed as bad as some might know, people manage to live the best way possible, with a smile on their faces.

The title strictly referees to one of the artists we interviewed while we were in Palestine. Amer Shomali‘s vast work can provide a variety of proofs about a Palestine defined by creativity and not shown in media. A few references acquired from his stories, certain information from his website and several from his workshop helped us understand a new concept combining art with activism called “artism”.

“Pagliacci” is one of my favourite work from his portfolio. He claims to be a “self portray”, but from my perspective, very little details of the paintings could be linked to the artist. “Pagliacci” comes with a new version of a stereotypical paid happiness, and goes beyond the image of a joyful entertainer, often encountered in circuses.

The story starts like this:

Once upon a time, a man goes to the doctor to teat a soul illness.. he was suffering of depression. Life seemed painful, harsh and without any form of mercy. Beauty was absent, covered by dark clouds, spreading loneliness and isolation. A cruel and threatening world with no place for hope and with a path limited by vague and uncertainty, shaped the man’s feelings. Desperate, he was waiting for a last solution from the doctor.Experienced,  the doctor has encountered this form of behaviour many times in the past so he came up with the easiest solution – finding the happiness in others. 

“The solution is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him, that should pick you up.”

While tears came out of his eyes the man said: 

“But doctor.. I am Pagliacci” 

(Shomali, A. 2010) 


Different versions of the character could be find on Amer Shomali‘s website along with many other examples of his work : http://www.amershomali.info/pagliacci/

The reason I chose to write about this painting is strongly related to the dramatic story behind it, surely present in our contemporary society through many different forms.  The entertainer doesn’t necessary have to fit the characteristics of the word but it can refer to any hiding behind the smile.  Some call it strength, others  see it as a weakness while Pagliacci understands it as insanity.

Finally, it is a different perspective of the world which sends a direct message towards appearances.  Images can be interpreted, information can be misleading,  people are easy to manipulate, while media knows exactly how to use all of them together.

Written by Antonia D Hruscovschi


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