Jabr? Ibr?h?m Jabr?
? ? ?
28 August 1920
|Died||12 December 1994 (aged 74)|
|Nationality||Palestinian / Iraqi|
|Education||Arab College in Jerusalem, Cambridge University, Harvard University|
|Known for||Painter, poet, writer, art critic, literary critic and educator|
|Movement||One Dimension Group, The Baghdad Modern Art Group; Hurufiyya movement|
|Lami`a Barqi al `Askari|
Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (28 August 1920 - 12 December 1994) (Arabic ? ?) was a Palestinian/Iraqi Syriac-Orthodox author, poet, artist and intellectual, born in Bethlehem at the time of the British Mandate. Educated in Jerusalem and, later, at Cambridge University, he settled in Iraq following the events of 1948. He worked across many creative fields - as an artist, art critic, art historian, poet and intellectual. He is one of the pioneers of the Hurufiyya movement, which sought to combine traditional Islamic art within contemporary works by integrating Arabic script into artworks.
Jabra Ibrahim Jabra born in 1920, in Bethlehem, into a poor family who belonged to the Syrian-Orthodox Church. He was educated at the Arab College in Jerusalem. When he was just 12 years, his family moved to Jerusalem.
He received a scholarship to study in England, starting in 1939. He enrolled at the University of Exeter, in preparation for further studies at Cambridge, and graduated with a B.A. in English literature in 1943.
During his time in England, he visited and photographed the Lake District which had been home to many notable English poets. He also taught at several University colleges. On his return to Bethlehem, he obtained an appointment as a lecturer in English literature at the Preparatory College. He later taught English literature at Rashidiyya College and part-time at De La Salle College College of Arts and Sciences.
In 1948, when the British Mandate ended, his family left Jerusalem and settled in Baghdad, Iraq. He then received a Rockefeller fellowship to study literary criticism at Harvard University, graduating with an M.A, in 1948.
Following his return to Baghdad, he worked in public relations briefly and then for the Ministry of Culture and Information in Iraq. In Baghdad, he taught at various colleges and became a professor of English at the University of Baghdad.
He never again returned to his native land, taking up Iraqi citizenship. He married an Iraqi woman, Lami`a Barqi al `Askari, and was one of the first Palestinians to write about his experiences of being in exile.
He worked across many fields in the creative arts - painting, poetry, writing, translation, art criticism and literary criticism. He was the principal translator of works by Shakespeare, Faulkner, and Becket (from English into Arabic).  His home in Baghdad was a meeting place for Iraqi intellectuals. In the second half of the 20th-century, he became a highly influential intellectual in the Arab-speaking world. 
Much of his writing was concerned with modernism and Arab society. This interest led him to become a founding member of the Modern Baghdad Art Group in the 1950s; an artists' collective and intellectual movement that attempted to combine Iraq's deep art heritage with modern abstract art methods. Although the Baghdad Modern Art Group was ostensibly an art movement, its members included poets, historians, architects and administrators. Jabra was deeply committed to the group's founder, Jawad Saleem, and Salem's ideals, and drew inspiration from Arab folklore, Arab literature and Islam.
His active involvement in the arts community continued with his becoming a founding member of the One Dimension Group, established by the prominent Baghdadi artist, Shakir Hassan Al Said in 1971. The group's manifesto gave voice to the group's commitment to both heritage and modernity and sought to distance itself from modern Arab artists, which the group perceived as following European artistic traditions. The One Dimension group was part of a broader movement amongst Arabic artists who rejected Western art forms and sought a new aesthetic; one that expressed their individual nationalism as well as their Arab identity. This movement subsequently became known as the hurufiyya movement.
Following his death in 1994, a relative, Raqiya Ibrahim, took up residency in his Baghdad home. However, the house was destroyed when a car bomb was detonated nearby in 2010. Thousands of Jabra's letters and personal effects were destroyed in this incident along with a number of his paintings.
Poet, novelist, painter, translator and literary critic, he also translated some English works into Arabic, including James Frazer's The Golden Bough and some of the work of T. S. Eliot. He produced around 70 books consisting of novels, memoirs and translated material. His own work has been translated into more than twelve languages. His paintings are now difficult to locate, but a few notable works can be found in private collections. 
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