Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891

Lettres

Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

The Arts of Islam

Penned upon the 5th of July, 2007

If you’re anywhere near Sydney – whether you’re New South Welsh (that’s fun to say) or just passing through – you might like to visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales and see The Arts of Islam: Treasures from the Nasser D Khalili Collection. 16th Century Iranian niche carpet, from the Art Gallery of NSW The exhibition features hundreds of items from the 7th to 20th centuries CE, and looks to be absolutely gorgeous. The emphasis is very much on the potential of art to teach, to enlighten; both in the sense of the history of the production of art and of art’s ability to give us sudden, fully-realised, intuitive insight into each other and the world. In fact, I’ve been planning a piece on the German Romantics’ writings on exactly that, but I’ll save that for another day.

Professor Khalili is a rather fascinating fellow, truth be told: I hear he was rated the UK’s fifth wealthiest individual, and the vast bulk of his wealth is the art collection he has made his life’s work. He has brought together some of the world’s largest collections of Islamic, Japanese, Spanish and Swedish art, which he displays to the public across the world in an effort to promote inter-cultural and inter-faith understanding, peace and co-operation. He’s also developed new forms of energy-saving buildings and undertaken some of London’s most ambitious restoration projects – if you’re unfortunate enough to have money, I guess that’s one way of spending it well!

17th Century Persian astrolabe by Muhammad Mahdi al-Yazdi, detail, from the Art Gallery of NSW The Arts of Islam is a celebration of the use of art to embody and express a universal, organic divinity; through a series of historical forms which unite aesthetics Byzantine, Mongolian, Moorish, Persian, Mughal, Egyptian, Swiss and a number more. It certainly looks worth seeing and I shall be keeping an eye for Professor Khalili’s next project!

The Arts of Islam
Treasures from the Nasser D Khalili collection

Art Gallery of New South Wales
22 June – 23 September 2007
Admission $15/$10
Exhibition webpage.
Museum webpage.
The Khalili Collections.


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