6th CARAVAN exhibit sends 'A Prayer for the World'

Ahram Online, Wednesday 11 Jun 2014

Now in its 6th year, the CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art will present 48 life-sized sculptures in one of four prayer poses painted by Egyptian and international artists in shows in Cairo, Washington DC and New York City

Paul-Gordon with the unpainted Amen-Amun (4 prayer forms) sculptures in Cairo recently
Paul-Gordon with the unpainted Amen-Amun (4 prayer forms) sculptures in Cairo. (Photo: courtesy of CARAVAN)

The sixth CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art opens on 17 June in Cairo's El Bab Gallery, located on the Opera House grounds, before heading to Washington DC and New York City on 30 August and 12 October respectfully.

The exhibition brings together 48 Egyptian and international artists from the US, UK and France, using art as a bridge for intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. This year's exhibition is themed "Amen - A Prayer for the World," and will witness artists painting life-size fibreglass sculptures in one of four prayer poses.

The show is co-curated by CARAVAN president, Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, and Egyptian artist Reda Abdel Rahman. The exhibiting artists include prominent painters such as Farghaly Abdel Hafiz, Mohamed Abla, Salah El-Meligui, and contemporary artists including Amr El Kafrawy, Marwa Adel and Wael Darwish, among others.

CARAVAN was established in Cairo, in 2009, as an international, intercultural, and interreligious arts non-profit, with a view to employ art as a tool to build bridges between different creeds and cultures in the Middle East and the West.

The annual CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art is the non-profit's flagship initiative. "The vision for this CARAVAN exhibition is for the Middle East and the West to embody the spirit of intercultural and interreligious solidarity that was so beautifully illustrated for the world by Egyptians during the January 25, 2011 Revolution," reads the press release.

Last year, the exhibition's fifth edition saw 45 local and international artists painting 90 donkeys. The donkey was chosen as an emblem of peace -- in both Christianity and Islam, Jesus and the second Muslim caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab rode donkeys into Jerusalem.

Each of the 45 artists, hailing from countries across the globe – including Poland, Switzerland, the UK, Jordan, France and Norway – were given two fibreglass donkeys, a life-sized and a mini version, and were asked to paint them in their own style, while reflecting the year’s theme: "In Peace and With Compassion…The Way Forward."

This year, the 48 participating artists will paint one life-size fibreglass sculpture in one of four poses of prayer, sculpted by Reda Abdel Rahman.

"The ‘model’ for the sculptural prayer form is Amun, the deity of ancient Thebes in the 11th dynasty (c. 21st century BC) who is considered the first to develop religion toward monotheism," according to the press release.

"The four sculptural forms therefore communicate a modern essence of Amun, each depicted with his face. In this exhibition the historic figure of 'Amun' is being associated with the word 'Amen,' an affirmation commonly used to conclude Christian, Muslim and Jewish prayers or blessings," it added.

The 30 Amun figures painted by Egyptian artists will be displayed in Cairo, and then will travel to the United States to be showcased alongside 18 sculptures painted by international artists.

"AMEN - A Prayer for the World" will first travel to Washington DC, where it will be exhibited at the world-renowned National Cathedral, and then at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. This will be followed by a charity auction of the sculptures in New York by a Sotheby’s auctioneer, with the proceeds donated to the Egyptian charity Tawasol.

"The exhibition seeks to express the deep, fundamental human acknowledgement of power and hope in the universe, for all peoples," according to CARAVAN.

17 June to July 1
El Bab Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, Cairo Opera House grounds

30 August to 6 October
National Cathedral
3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC

12 October to 16 November
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY

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