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Nur Exhibition Shines Light on Islamic Art
Appropriately for a region that was once home to a Muslim polity that remains famous for its advances in art and learning, the southern Spanish area of Andalusia has begun showcasing a collection of Muslim art from across time and across the continents.
“Deriving its title from the Arabic word for light in both the physical and metaphysical sense, ‘Nur’ has been organized thematically into two major sections: an art section showcasing innovations in artistic technique that enhance the effect of light, and a section focusing on scientific fields which are related to light or contributed to enlightenment,” said the organizer of the “Nur: Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World” exhibition in Seville, the Focus-Abengoa Association.
The exhibition includes 140 pieces of art from 17 Muslim countries around the world. The works are all hand-made and were made between the ninth and 20th centuries.
The Focus-Abengoa Association supported the exhibition, which features a significant number of objects that have never before been presented to the public, from artworks to rare manuscripts and scientific objects. Following the exhibition’s debut in Seville at the Focus-Abengoa Foundation’s historic 17th-century building, the Hospital de los Venerables Sacerdotes, the exhibition will travel to the Dallas Museum of Art in Texas.
“Light is a very important part and concept in Islam and it is always something that talked about. The unveiling of Islamic arts mean light and light played an important part in this creation, especially in metaphysical form,” said Dr. Sabiha al-Khemir, an Islamic art and culture expert who helped organize the new show.
Encompassing works from a wide geographical area, from Spain to Central Asia, the exhibition will include manuscripts illuminated with gold and color pigments, ceramics painted with luster, inlay metalwork decorated in silver and gold, and objects made from precious and semi-precious stones.
Scientific objects featured in the exhibition include equatorial sundials, astrolabes, and anatomical instruments, all of which are examples of the Islamic world’s influence on the Renaissance and scientific thought. In addition to showcasing the use of light in Islamic art and science, Nur will demonstrate how Spain has bridged the Islamic world and Europe, serving as an entry point for Islamic discoveries in fields such as medicine, geometry and astronomy, as well as specific inventions such as the luster technique.
“For centuries, Spain has served as a bridge between Islamic and Western civilizations. The Focus-Abengoa Foundation’s organization of this traveling exhibition continues this tradition by allowing visitors to Seville and Dallas to discover themes and see works from the Islamic world, some of which have never been exhibited before,” said al-Khemir. “The 11 centuries and 17 countries represented in Nur demonstrate not only the tradition of skill and craftsmanship across the Islamic world, but also the sheer beauty that Islamic culture has produced and Islamic civilization’s contribution to humanity’s pool of knowledge.”