Thursday 27 August 2009

Oman: Rembrandt in Oman

Rembrandt in OmanThe ‘Rembrandt in Oman’ exhibition opened last week at the Hyatt. Slightly misleading title as he never actually travelled to this neck of the woods, but the superb collection of etchings does include one or two of people wearing turbans.

Access to the exhibition on the ground floor of the hotel is through a life-size cardboard cut out of Rembrandt’s house (minus the first storey making it look very stubby) which enters into the Afrah ballroom. After being stripped of most of our possessions, we walked into the dimly lit room where the hundred or so prints are beautifully displayed. Half an hour later we stat in the comfy chairs of the small cinema to watch a short film about Rembrandt’s life and his techniques. I didn’t realise etchings had different ‘states’ in which the artist could modify the plate to look completely different - an early form of Photoshop.
While wandering around the hall, I noticed a distinct lack of Omanis. Not one. So given that one of the aims of this quite expensive exhibition (600,000 Omani riyals plus insurance) was to boost tourism, what did they have in mind staging it during Ramadan when foreign tourism is probably at its lowest and most of the locals have their minds on their next meal?
See if you can understand the Oman Tribune's explanation (all their own words):

“Our intention of holding this exhibition is to contribute towards presenting a prominent aesthetic outlook within the veins of the spirit of civilisation, which Arab artists, including painters and engravers, have tried to present for over a century. Oman and the Netherlands have enjoyed trade and cultural relationship for over four centuries, and many studies have been initiated on the links between the two countries. The exhibition is the contribution that both the library and the Rembrandt Museum in continuation of our long-standing friendship,” ....

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