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January/February 2015


on the subcontinent, he credits in his

work a unique synthesis of the genre’s

motifs and techniques with current

issues and the formal language of con-

temporary abstract painting. Ikon Gallery,




through January 25.

Treasures from India:

Jewels from the

Al-Thani Collection

includes some 60

jeweled objects from the private col-

lection formed by Sheikh Hamad bin

Abdullah Al-Thani, offering a glimpse

into the evolving styles of the jeweled

arts in India from the Mughal period

until the present day, with emphasis

on later exchanges with the West. Met-

ropolitan Museum of Art,

New York


through January 25.



Illusions & Mirrors.

As part of this

year’s edition of

La Biennale de Mon-


with the future as its theme, the

museum will host the latest film by

well-known Iranian-born American art-

ist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat. Enti-


Illusions & Mirrors

and shot in

2013, it stars the actress Natalie Port-

man. This presentation at the


will be its North American premiere.


Museum of Fine Arts,

through February 1.

Francesco Clemente:

Inspired by India

examines the Indian influences in Cle-

mente’s work and how they relate to

the artistic traditions and practices of

various regions of India. In contrast to

leading conceptual artists’ practices of

the 1970s, Clemente focused on repre-

sentation, narrative and the figure, and

explored traditional, artisanal materi-

als and modes of working. The exhibi-

tion includes some 20 works, including

paintings from the past 30 years and

four new, larger-than-life sculptures.

Rubin Museum of Art,

New York


through February 2.

Objects in Painting, Souvenir of


in Connection with Medi-

eval Morocco:

An Empire from Africa

to Spain

, compares and contrasts

paintings and drawings by Eugène

Delacroix with objects that the art-

ist brought back from his trip to North

Africa in 1832. The exhibition provides

insight into the realist and fantasti-

cal aspect of Delacroix’s Orientalist

works. While his travels to Morocco

provided an opportunity for the awe-

struck young man to make hundreds

of sketches and watercolors from first-

hand observations, he would return to

these Oriental subjects until his death

in 1863. His memories of Morocco

mingled with an imaginary and sensi-

tive vision nurtured by the literature

and music of his time. Musée du Lou-



, through February 2.

The Landscapes of India:


Painting from the Mughal Era


the scope of landscape tradition in

Indian painting. At the same time, the

miniatures in this display represent

a cross section of northern and cen-

tral Indian schools of painting from the

16th through the 19th centuries. While

abstract imagery—particularly with

regard to nature and landscape—was

visible in Rajput schools of painting

into the 19th century, the European

influence on Mughal painting reveals

an unmistakable naturalism, thereby

affecting the Rajput schools in turn.

Museum für Asiatische Kunst,



through February 8.

Local Not Local:

Arabic and Iranian

Typography Made in California

. Typog-

raphy, typeface and font debates may

seem like a recent phenomenon, but

they have always been part of any good

design discussion. This is true for Eng-

lish and the Roman alphabet, as well as

Arabic and its alphabet. The 10 artists

shown here come from diverse Middle

Eastern backgrounds, but all live in Cal-

ifornia and use the Arabic alphabet in

their designs. Their work is tied to their

personal ancestral heritage, as well as

their own modern style. These pieces

include client-driven as well as inde-

pendent works. Arab American National


Dearborn, Michigan

, through

February 15.

Cairo to Constantinople:

Early Photo-

graphs of the Middle East


the Prince of Wales’s (later King Edward


) 1862 educational tour of the Middle

East through the work of British photog-

rapher Francis Bedford, the first photog-

rapher to join a royal tour, and explores

the cultural and political significance Vic-

torian Britain attached to the region. The

display includes archeological material

brought back by the prince, including

an Egyptian papyrus inscribed with the

Amduat, a memorial text that describes

the journey through the Underworld of

Re, the Egyptian sun god. The Queen’s

Gallery, Buckingham Palace,



through February 22.



Mshatta in Focus:

The Jordanian Des-

ert Palace in Historical Photographs.

The richly decorated façade of the

early Islamic desert palace of Mshatta

was presented as a gift from the Otto-

man Sultan to the German Emperor in

1903, when it was transported from

the Jordanian desert to Berlin, where

it now forms the centerpiece of the

Museum für Islamische Kunst’s col-

lection, on show in the Pergamonmu-

seum. Its accession history began with

a series of photographs of the façade,

which circulated among European

archeologists and art historians around

the turn of the century and eventually

landed in the hands of Kaiser Wilhelm


. Photographic records were made at

several key moments in its recent his-

tory: before and during the façade’s

dismantling; after the structure was

hit by a bomb during World War


; and

during its subsequent restoration in

the 1950s. Pergamonmuseum,



through March 15.

The Lost Dhow:

A Discovery from the

Maritime Silk Route.

In 1998 an Arab

ship carrying goods from China was dis-

covered at the bottom of the Indian

Ocean off Belitung Island, Indonesia.

Dating from the ninth century (China’s

Tang Dynasty), the Belitung shipwreck

is the earliest Arab vessel of this period

to be found with a complete cargo,

including silver ingots, bronze mirrors,

spice-filled jars, intricately worked ves-

sels of silver and gold and thousands of

ceramic bowls, ewers and other ves-

sels. Uncovering its mysterious origins

reveals the interconnections between

two great powers, the Tang and Abbasid

empires. The exhibition provides the ear-

liest evidence of a maritime silk route—

and speaks to the vibrant exchange of

ideas and technologies between peo-

ples that occurred centuries before the

Portuguese entered the region in the

late 15th century. Aga Khan Museum,


, through March 15.

Grand Parade:

A Unique Art Instal-

lation by Jompet Kuswidananto

. The

Indonesian artist makes a unique

presentation of his famous groups

of parade figures. Rather than being

retrospective of individual works, it

serves as a new art installation, con-

ceived as a dynamic whole. The

assembly of life-size mechanical fig-

ures within the installation is modelled

on the groups found in the Indonesian

public domain during festive, ceremo-

nial or political parades—with each

figure wearing a costume, carrying a

musical instrument and coming into

action through movement of hands,

clapping and instrument playing. Tro-



, through

March 22.


The Genius of Persian Cal-


is the first exhibition to focus

on the calligraphic script developed in

14th-century Iran that remains one of

the most expressive forms of esthetic

refinement in Persian culture to this

day. More than 20 works ranging from

1400 to 1600, the height of nasta’liq’s

development, tell the story of the

script’s transformation from a simple

conveyer of the written word into an

artistic form on its own. The narrative

thread emphasizes the achievements

of four of the greatest master calligra-

phers, whose manuscripts and individ-

ual folios were and still are appreciated

not only for their content, but also for

their technical virtuosity and visual qual-

ity. Sackler Gallery,

Washington, D.C.


through March 22.

Poetry and Exile in Works by Abdal-

lah Benanteur, Ipek Duben, Mireille

Kassar, Mona Saudi and Canan


, drawn from recent acquisi-

tions of works by artists of the Mid-

dle East and North Africa by the British

Museum, explores the effects of exile

through the eyes of five artists. There

are many forms of exile expressed

here. For Canan Tolon, it is exile from

her home in Istanbul as a result of con-

tracting polio as a child, the story of

which she evokes in “Futur Imparfait.”

Ipek Duben’s book


, with its

delicate gauze pages, belies the terror

and helplessness of people forced to

flee their homeland. Mona Saudi and

Abdallah Benanteur combine the pow-

erful verses of Palestinian poet Mah-

moud Darwish with drawings, while

Mireille Kassar conjures a story of

exile from her own family history and

the Persian poem “The Conference of

the Birds


” The British Museum,



, through March 29.

Emperor Charles


Captures Tunis:

Documenting a Campaign.

In June

1535 Emperor Charles


set sail from

Sardinia at the head of a fleet of 400

ships carrying more than 30,000 sol-

diers to reconquer the Kingdom of

Tunis from the Ottomans. To docu-

ment the campaign and his hoped-for

victory, he was accompanied not only

by historians and poets but also by his

court painter Jan Cornelizs Vermeyen.

In 1543 the Flemish artist was com-

missioned to paint the cartoons for 12

monumental tapestries celebrating the

campaign from the countless drawings

and sketches he had brought back from

North Africa. These unique cartoons are

the focus of this exhibition, highlight-

ing different aspects of the dramatic

events of 1535. Kunsthistorisches



, through March 31.



Egypt’s Mysterious Book of the Fai-


is an exquisitely illustrated papy-

rus from Greco-Roman Egypt, one of

the most intriguing ancient representa-

tions of a place ever found. The papy-

rus depicts the Faiyum Oasis, located

west of the Nile, as a center of pros-

perity and ritual. For the first time in

over 150 years, major sections owned

by the Walters Art Museum and the

Morgan Library & Museum, separated

since the manuscript was divided and

sold in the 19th century, have been

reunited. Egyptian jewelry, papyri, stat-

ues, reliefs and ritual objects illuminate

the religious context that gave rise to

this enigmatic text, which celebrates

the crocodile god, Sobek, and his spe-

cial relationship with the Faiyum.




, through April 15.

Helen Zughaib’s Stories My Father

Told Me.

The art of storytelling has a

vibrant history in Arab and Arab Amer-

ican culture. Passed down from one

generation to the next, family sto-

ries help preserve the past and main-

tain cultural traditions. Artist Helen

Zughaib’s father, Elia, still tells of his

life in Lebanon and Damascus in tales

of family, community, adventure and

morality. These rich stories inspired

her in 2003 to illustrate and, in effect,

copy them down on canvas. United for

the first time, these 23 paintings repre-

sent personal accounts, as well as folk-

tales retold. Arab American National


Dearborn, Michigan


through April 19.

Points of Contact:

New Approaches

to Islamic Art.

Over the past decades,

the study of Islamic material culture

has been marked by increased schol-

arly attention to transcultural dimensions

of art, architecture and archeology. This

interest coincides with an interest in his-

tories of mobility generated by contem-

porary discourses. It has taken a variety

of forms, from attention to the modali-

ties and effects of circulation—the result

of diplomatic exchange and gifting, long-

distance trade, or looting and reuse, for

example—to research on media and

regions that lie on the margins of the

Islamic world, or outside the traditional

boundaries of the canon.

Points of Con-


is a lecture series that introduces

some of the exciting new scholarship

generated by these developments. Insti-

tute of Fine Arts,

New York


through April 23.



The Traveler’s Eye:

Scenes of Asia

features more than 100 works cre-

ated over the past five centuries, pro-

viding glimpses of travels across Asia,

from pilgrimages and research trips

to expeditions for trade and tour-

ism. The exhibition juxtaposes East

Asian scrolls, Japanese woodblock

prints and contemporary photography

with maps, archeological drawings

and souvenirs, concluding with three

vignettes on western travelers who

recorded and remembered Asia dur-

ing the last century: German archeol-

ogist Ernst Herzfeld in Central Asia,

American collector and museum-

founder Charles Lang Freer in China,

and the many travelers worldwide

who shared memories with mass-

produced, hand-colored postcards.

Sackler Gallery,

Washington, D.C.


through May 31.