L ondoners and visitors to London have rich pickings this summer for Middle East-related cultural offerings. Aside from the Frieze Sculpture Park which features Dubai’s Third Line Gallery showing a wonderful work by Rana Begum, KAHLIL GIBRAN: A Guide for Our Times is an exhibition that will be held at Sotheby's between 6-10 August 2018, highlighting 38 premier and emerging contemporary artists from the Middle East inspired by the universal message of peace and harmony found in Kahlil Gibran’s poetry, writing and art. Gibran’s best-selling book The Prophet, celebrates its 95th publishing anniversary this year, and Sotheby’s having recently sold a collection of 33 letters by Gibran, makes this a particularly apt moment to hold this show.
The exhibition visually highlights how Kahlil Gibran as a supreme East-West figure, can be an unparalleled guide for our times, promoting peace, harmony and the building of bridges between the creeds and cultures of the Middle East and the West. Reflecting the compelling universal spiritual contribution that Kahlil Gibran has made and continues to make to the world, the exhibition will show how Gibran’s voice is timeless and can be a guiding spirit for our times.
Kahlil Gibran, the renowned Lebanese-born poet-artist, emigrated from Lebanon to the US in the late 1800s, and came into worldwide recognition in the 1920s. He visited London in 1910 at the end of a two-year period of art studies in Paris. While in London he was profoundly influenced by the mystical work of the poet-painter William Blake and deeply impressed with the paintings of William Turner. During Gibran’s short visit to London along with his two compatriots, they came up with an ambitious plan to reconcile the faiths in the Arab world on a grand artistic scale. While in London they sketched plans for an opera house in Beirut showcasing two domes, one resembling a church basilica and the other featuring mosque minarets, symbolizing the reconciliation of the two religions.
The current exhibition is organized by CARAVAN, a peacebuilding NGO that uses the arts to build bridges between the Middle East and West. It will include an exciting array of works by such well-known artists as Camille Zakharia, Zena Assi, Jamal A. Rahim, Marwa Adel, Nazir Tanbouli and many others. It is co-curated by Janet Rady and Marion Fromlet Baecker and is in partnership with The Arab British Centre. CARAVAN previously held another similar exhibition that showed in Bahrain and Cairo, and this time some of the work in those two exhibitions, together with a selection of work from premier Lebanese artists, are being curated for this larger exhibition at Sotheby’s. Proceeds of the artwork will go to charity, for peacebuilding in the Middle East through the arts. The exhibition at Sotheby’s is sponsored by Barclays (Middle East / North Africa), and supported by the Embassy of the Lebanese Republic.
For more information, see: www.oncaravan.org/kahlil-gibran
MAIN IMAGE: CAMILLE ZAKHARIA, MAHROOSEH, 2018