“The Thousand and One Nights” was the inaugural show of Artual Gallery, the first of its kind in Beirut. Conceived and curated by Maria Brito, the exhibition is comprised of seven American contemporary artists who will make their own interpretations of the famed “The Thousand and One Nights” collection of Middle Eastern folk tales. The show opened on March 15, 2019 and ran until May 1, 2019
The seven artists in “The Thousand and One Nights” exhibition were: Rosson Crow; Allison Zuckerman; Holly Coulis; Jamea Richmond-Edwards; Jonathan Chapline; Monica Kim Garza and Canyon Castator.
Dating to the early 9th century, “The Thousand and One Nights” (sometimes referred to as “Arabian Nights” or “The Nights”) is one of the most important and relevant pieces of literature of the Middle East. It follows the brilliant Scheherazade, who volunteers to marry King Shahryār, despite his pattern of killing his wives in retaliation against his old wife’s unfaithfulness. Scheherazade tells the king a story each night for 1001 nights until the king has a change of heart. Some of the tales commonly associated with “The Nights” are “Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, “The Magic Carpet” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor”.
The stories have become important cultural touchstones in the Middle East, and Scheherazade is also a symbol of female strength, freedom of speech, creativity and eloquence that continues to be relevant today. Each artist in the exhibition will be creating all-new works inspired by these stories, giving their own interpretation on their relevance and meaning.
Throughout art history, several important painters have created works based on “The Nights,” including Eugene Delacroix, Rene Magritte, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Emile Bernard, Ferdinand Keller and Edouard Frederic Wilhelm Richter.
“Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world with a tumultuous history, having been a part of the Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, and under French mandate following World War I until it became independent and the capital of Lebanon in 1943, yet despite this, Beirut has remained an intellectual and cultural center in the Middle East. In most recent years, the literature and other contributions of the Middle East to the Western Worlds have been obscured and forgotten. “The Thousand and One Nights” is Maria Brito’s attempt to begin an intercultural dialogue that show otherwise.
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