A selection of works from the renowned Khalili collection will go on display for the first time in the Middle East at the Exhibition Hall in the Emirates Palace Hotel from January 23. The exhibition, themed ‘Truly God Is Beautiful And Truly Loves All’ is being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
‘The Arts of Islam: Treasures from the Nasser D. Khalili Collection’ will comprise over 500 pieces and include a number of works never shown before, such as an exquisitely detailed panoramic watercolour of Makkah, painted in 1843, which is the earliest known visual record of the Holy City.
“This is an exhibition of international acclaim and its staging is in line with our ambition of establishing the UAE capital as a global cultural centre,” said HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of ADTA, TDIC and the Abu Dhabi Authority For Culture & Heritage.
“The staging of this exhibition, and others to follow in the months and years to come, will assist in raising regional awareness of the fine arts and nurturing a cultural psyche which will culminate in the creation, in Abu Dhabi, of the world’s largest cluster of cultural assets.”
Abu Dhabi is on its way to becoming a global cultural destination with the creation of the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island, which will be home to the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi modern and contemporary arts museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi universal museum, a maritime museum, performing arts centre and cluster of arts pavilions.
“The Nasser D. Khalili collection of Islamic Art has been praised by Britain’s Independent newspaper as a means of ‘Healing the world with art,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA and Managing Director, TDIC. “It will attract an audience, not just from within the UAE, but from throughout the region and beyond.”
Part of the celebrated Khalili Collections, assembled since 1970 by Iranian scholar, collector and benefactor Professor Nasser D. Khalili, under the auspices of the Khalili Family Trust, the Islamic Collection comprises over 20,000 works and is the world’s largest and most comprehensive, encompassing the entire history of the art of Islamic lands from its 7th century beginnings until the present day.
“This collection plays a significant role in promoting greater understanding between people of different cultures and faiths and increasing awareness of the rich contributions of Islamic cultures to world art,” said Professor Khalili.
“It is highly appropriate that its first Middle East showing should be in Abu Dhabi, which is now internationally recognised as a strong proponent of the arts. The staging of the exhibition owes much to the personal support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and His Excellency Sheikh Sultan and the sponsorship of TDIC, all of which is warmly appreciated.”
The exhibition will present both the religious and secular arts of Islam through a series of themes, including: the development of arts associated with Holy Quran manuscripts, especially calligraphy; arts associated with pilgrimage, everyday and treasury objects, miniature painting and carpets and textiles. Other themes will focus on the talismanic use of Holy Quran verses, science in the service of religion, equestrianism, falconry and interaction with Europe.
A fully illustrated catalogue, published in both Arabic and English, will accompany the exhibition and a symposium, a series of lectures and other educational programmes are also planned.
‘The Art of Islam’ exhibition will run until end of April 2008 and will be open to the public at a nominal fee with entrance revenue being donated to the Emirates Foundation – a philanthropic organisation based in Abu Dhabi, which was created with a vision of implementing strategic projects that benefit the UAE nation, particularly the country’s youth.
The exhibition is part of a cycle of international temporary exhibitions which are central to Abu Dhabi’s arts strategy of preparing its audience for the future developments on Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District.
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