While the Hejaz region, where the two holy cities of Islamic Mecca and Medina are located, is still simply off-limits to non-Muslims, the rest of this vast land was at least as inaccessible and dangerous with its deserts whose reputation was enough to discourage the most fearless traveller.
A small handful did, however, risk their lives to journey through Arabia and return with the rare texts and images that form the subject of this publication. These works, or rather the most captivating and successful of them in historical, anthropological and aesthetic terms, are gathered together in Visions from Abroad.
Historical and contemporary representations of Saudi Arabia are presented in a dozen thematic chapters. All the media and genres—including painting, sculpture, engraving and photography as well as installation and even comics—are represented in this extraordinary gallery of images, where the works of great orientalist artists like Léon Belly, Georg Emanuel Opiz and Émile Prisse d’Avesnes are fruitfully juxtaposed with those of famous contemporary photographers like Raymond Depardon, Abbas and Humberto Da Silveira.
Running parallel to these images, the text enables readers to see through Arabia, a land so difficult and complex to penetrate and decipher, through the eyes of the travellers who undertook to describe it in the works they have left to posterity. It also addresses the often uncommon personalities of these figures, like the Italian Ludovico di Varthema from Bologna, who did not hesitate to become a Mamluk in 1503 to set foot on Arabian soil.
About the Author
For the past 30 years, Mona Khazindar has curated numerous successful international exhibitions. With her extensive knowledge of the Arab art scene, Khazindar speaks regularly at conferences the world over and has acted as an art advisor and consultant to numerous museums and cultural and artistic institutions.
About the Publisher
Founded in 2015 with the mission of promoting the talent of artists from the region, Kaph Books is a publishing house based in Beirut, Lebanon, and specialising in quality art books on Middle-Eastern artists or art practices. Each book is unique, created in collaboration with the artists and contributors with high technical and design quality.