ARTYFACTS: East West - Tate Britain

Saturday, January 27, 2007

East West - Tate Britain

Not really an exhibition, more a scattering of unrelated objects in each of the main rooms of the permanent collection. It tries to show us how 'oriental' or 'muslim' art can be seen within the context of western art. However, apart from Turkish carpets appearing in paintings by Holbein and others and some fancy dress for aristocratic portraits, this remains a poor theme, sparsely illustrated.

Gone native!
The objects, carpet, korans, moasue lamp, vase, painting, pate and photograph were less interesting than the oriential paintings in Room 9 (I think). Here we have images that show what we were thinking about at the time. Wilkie's portrait of Mehamat Ali and John Frederick Lewis's paintings are the highlights. I did like Lewis's image of Edfu where he used the famous ruins as a low backdrop for the image of camels and locals. He spent years living in Cairo. Tellingly, even the picture note on the wall referred to him 'going native'. What's the Tate thinking about?

Here's a question. When was the frist English translation of the Koran?
1649 - a few months after Charles 1 got beheaded. The illustrated inside cover of the later Koran was fascinating in its complexity and detail.


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