Mustafa Al-Hallaj was born in Salame, Jaffa, in 1938. After the 1948 Nakba, he ended up with his family in Damascus, where he studied Sculpture at the College of Fine Arts in Cairo. He attended the Luxor Atelier for Postgraduate Studies.
His art includes paintings, graphics, murals, illustrations, cover designs and etchings. Al-Hallaj was specialized in graphic art and sculpture and was called by some critics “an icon of contemporary Arab graphic arts”. He lived in Beirut and Damascus, and contributed to define fan al-muqawama (the art of resistance). He lost 25,000 of his prints in the Israeli attacks on Beirut in 1982 but managed to save the wood and masonry cuts he used to make them. He was a founding member of the trade union committee of the General Union of Palestinian Writers and Journalists, and member of the Managing Committee of the General Union of Palestinian Abstract Artists in Syria. He laid the foundation for an art gallery, which opened in the memory of Naji Ali in 1987 in Damascus.
His famous Self-Portrait as God, the Devil, and Man was inspired by ancient Canaanite legends, folk tales, and Palestinian cultural icons, and is a sequence of pictorial narratives which had reached 114 meters at the time of his death, summarizing the history of the Palestinian people from 11 th Century BC to the present.
Al-Hallaj won several local and international awards and prizes. He died in Dec. 2002 in Damascus, while trying to rescue his works from a fire that destroyed his studio. He was buried in Al-Yarmouk Refugee Camp, Damascus.
There’s a FB album created by Barbara Jansma that shows some of his work.