ARABS AND EUROPE: INTERACTIONS
Curated by Khaled Azab, Azza Ezzat, Ahmed Mansour
General coordination of Wael Farouq
The very name of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina evokes the image of a glorious past, a shared heritage, not only between Greece and Egypt, not even the entire Mediterranean, but a shared heritage of all humanity. It was indeed, in the ancient library of Alexandria, that the greatest adventure of the human intellect was to be carried out.
Islamic art has a distinctive character compared to the other cultures. This typical character of Islamic art was formed through the religious beliefs, environmental components and social customs of the Muslim artist. At the same time, Islamic art did not detach itself from the arts of other cultures, both past and present. It can be said that Islamic art is a global and universal art that merges with other arts and assimilates that which adapts to its identity and character.
“Interactions” is an exhibition that aims to identify the relations between the Arabs and Europe, presented in the early years, through the centuries. To begin with, the Hellenistic arts assumed the Tree of Life as their main symbol and their representation, and they mingled strongly between East and West for the first time in history. The exhibition presents a model of the Mesopotamian Tree of Life, which is deeply rooted in art. It should however be noted that the Greeks were widely present in Egypt before the arrival of Alexander the Great, making the country a fairly familiar place for him.
The Greek language was used in the Ancient Library of Alexandria as the language of knowledge, which is evident through a Greek papyrus on the acquisitions of the Ancient Library. The Greek language was also one of the main elements that helped to decipher the language of the ancient Egyptians, since the writings of the Rosetta stone included the Greek.
When Latin and Greek were the languages of knowledge, the Arabs translated numerous scientific and philosophical manuscripts into Arabic. The exhibition presents several examples of Arabic translations that served as a bridge connecting Europe to its roots. And this, in addition to numerous scientific and philosophical books that Europe translated from Arabic into Latin during the beginning of the European Renaissance.