From the 3rd May - 3rd July 2002 the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia will host a travelling exhibition entitled "The Spiritual Edifices of Islam", on loan from GDG Exhibits Trust, Washington D.C. The collection features 33 graphite sketches of some of the most significant mosques of the world, sketched on location by the late Wahbi al-Hariri Rifai, the last of the Classicists.
The artworks will cover diverse geographic regions spanning the period of 12 centuries under numerous Islamic dynasties and will include: The Ummayad structure of the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain; The Almoravid Kairawiyin Mosque in Fez, Morocco; The Ottoman Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey; and the Mughal Shah Jahan Mosque in Delhi, India.
Short descriptions on the historical significance, cultural influences and architectural structure will also be addressed in the exhibition. Among some of the historical mosques featured are the 7th centure Hua-Ycheng Mosque in Guangzhou - one of the oldest Islamic structures in China; and the 7th centure mosques, the Masjid al-Nabawi in Madinah and Masjid al-Haram in Makkah the holiest sites of the Islamic World.
The other countries highlighted in this exhibition are Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jerusalem, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia and Uzbekistan. The exhibition will also highlight 18 additional retrospective works by Wahbi al-Hariri Rifai, of architectural monuments and sites in America, Europe and the Middle East in a variety of media such as prints, water colours and pastel sketches.
The Artist: Wahbi Al-Harriri Rifai
Born in 1914 in the historic city of Aleppo, Syria, Wahbi al-Hariri Rifai began his formal education at the Academia Reale Di Belle Arti, the Institutodi Dante Aughieri in Rome, Italy and the Ecole Des Beaux Arts at the Louvre in Paris, France. Upon working in Syria for a few years, he moved to Saudi Arabia in 1964.
In 1981, after an intensive period of on-site drawing throughout the Kingdom, a compilation of his exceptional drawings entitled 'Traditional Architecture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia' was published in Florence, Italy. During the last four years of his life while battling cancer, his spiritual drive and artistic talent inspired him to travel around the world to compile images of the Spiritual Edifices of Islam.
Despite his resolve, circumstances did not allow him to reach all the sites that he had selected. Nonetheless, remarkably he completed close to 100 paintings and drawings within this period that embodied the final evolution of his distinctive classical style. Until his death in 16th August 1994, he overtly maintained an optimistic view of his condition and remained driven by faith and and inspired by an unyielding thirst for knowledge and constant search for beauty.