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Louay Kayyali (Syrian, 1934-1978)
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Wijdan (Jordanian)

Al Hajj

Details
Wijdan (Jordanian)
Al Hajj
oil on canvas
49¼ x 39 3/8in. (125 x 100cm.)
Painted in 1980
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Literature
R. Sabbagh-Gargour, "Perfection & Reflection Princess Wijdan Ali, Doyenne of Jordanian Modern Art", in The Bite, vol. 2, issue 6, 2006 (illustrated in colour, p. 61).
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Lot Essay

Jordanian artist Wijdan's painting from the 1980s, titled Al Hajj, is a beautiful visual rendition of the Hajj pilgrimage in the Islamic holy city of Mecca. In the centre of Wijdan's painting lies the artist's interpretation of the Kaaba, the site most sacred to Muslims, which they must face when praying. In Wijdan's work, the holy site stands for a single ideology that unites people from all over the world and from diverse social milieus, economic strata and occupations. The most impressive feature of the painting is the style and technique with which the artist has portrayed the hundreds of thousands of people that get their moment of spiritual ecstasy in front of the Kaaba. The monochromatic representation of the pilgrims unifies the crowds and is a metaphor for how the differences between the pilgrims are blurred and diminished when they are united by their faith.

However, it also alludes to the inequalities between individuals in knowledge, intelligence, compassion, degree of tolerance, sincerity, and depth of their belief.

By scraping paint off her canvas in order to render each person depicted as a unique individual, Wijdan has captured the singularity of each pilgrim thus rendering each person, in her painting, as a distinct character. Yet all these individuals, despite their different experiences and ideologies, partake in the same spiritual journey. This is the power of the Hajj, which has been captured beautifully by Wijdan. Painted in the early 1980s, this work precedes the calligraphy art Wijdan is mostly known for and the technique used to depict the Hajj pilgrims came in fact to be implemented in the artist's later works.
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