An art historian, painter, art curator and diplomat.  Following her undergraduate studies in history at Beirut College for Women, in 1961, she gained a PhD in the history of Islamic art from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 1993.  Her art training began in the late 1950’s under Muhana Durra, the leading precursor of the modern art movement in Jordan.

Describing the essential qualities of Islamic art, Wijdan has written, ‘Islamic art focuses on the spiritual representation of objects and beings, not on their material qualities. Neglecting the exact imitation of nature, the Islamic artists chose a two-dimensional stylization to represent their visions.  The artist’s quest was for the eternal representation of the spirit.’ Given the supreme importance of the word of God as set down in the Qur’an and its transmission throughout the Islamic world, the traditional emphasis upon the primacy of the written word served to elevate Arabic calligraphy into the pre-eminent form of artistic expression, a level it never attained in the western tradition.  Whilst the zenith of the Islamic calligraphic tradition was perhaps reached in the Fourteenth Century, there are still many noted exponents of the traditional forms today. However, interactions with western developments also helped stimulate stylistic innovations, and Wijdan’s artistic practice is situated at the forefront edge of the modern calligraphic styles in the visual arts that incorporate contemporary ideas and western media.

Wijdan has written, edited and contributed to a number of publications on traditional and contemporary art from the Islamic world.  She is the founder of the Royal Society of Fine Arts (1979) and the National Gallery of Fine Arts, (1980) in Jordan, as well as the founder and dean of the faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Jordan (2001-2005).  Since October 2006, she has been the Jordanian Ambassador to Italy and currently lives and works in Rome.

 

Education

1993

 

Ph.D. in Islamic Art, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, London, England.

1990

 

MA, Islamic Art, SOAS, University of London.

1961

 

BA, History, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon.

1958-63

 

Private training in painting with Armando Prön (Italian) and Muhanna Durra (Jordanian), Amman.

 

 

 

Solo Exhibitions

2009

 

"I Am You" Sharjah, LipanjePuntin artecontemporane, Rome, Italy

2003

 

"Honored Artist at the Sharjah Biennale" Sharjah, U. A. E.

2002

 

"Three Phases in Four Decades" Darat Al-Funun, Amman, Jordan

2001

 

"al-Riwaq Gallery" Manama, Bahrain

1994

 

"Riwaq al-Balqa'", Fuhais, Jordan.

   

"Shawa & Wijdan", October Gallery, London.

   

"Umaniyat", The Literary Club, Muscat, Oman.

1993

 

"Galligraphy in Watercolor"The Gallery, Amman, Jordan.

1992

 

"Wijdan and Franco de Courten", Shoman Gallery, Amman, Jordan.

1990

 

The Gallery, Amman, Jordan.

1986

 

Petra Bank Gallery, Amman, Jordan.

1981

 

Alia Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan.

   

Fine Arts Council, Karachi, Pakistan.

1980

 

Jordan National Gallery, Amman, Jordan.

1977

 

The Gallery, Amman, Jordan.

1979

 

Middle East Institute, Washington D.C., USA.

1973

 

Thor Gallery, Louisville, USA.

1972

 

Gallerias Melia, Madrid, Spain.

   

Jordan Intercontinental, Amman, Jordan.

1967

 

British Council, Amman, Jordan.

1965

 

Le Centre Culturel Français, Amman, Jordan.

   

Woodstock Gallery, London, England.

1965

 

Galerie Wirth, Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.

1964

 

Le Centre Culturel Français, Amman, Jordan.

1963

 

American Cultural Centre, Amman, Jordan.

 

Artistic Awards

1995

 

Al-Hussein bin Talal Gold Medal for Artistic Achievement.

1987

 

Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres - Ministere de la Culture en France.

1981

 

Medaille d'Or - Academie Internationale de Lutèce, Lille, France.

1981

 

Diplome d'Honneur - Institut Européen de Science Humaine dans la Discipline Academique Beaux Arts, Brussel, Belgium.

 

Selected Solo Shows

1965

 

Woodstock Gallery, London, UK

   

Galerie Wirth, Berlin, West Germany

   

Le Centre Culturel Francais. Amman,Jordan

1972

 

Gallerias Melia, Madrid Spain

1973

 

Thor Gallery Louisville, Kentucky, USA

1979

 

Middle East Institute, Washington D,C

1980

 

Jordan National Gallery. Amman,

1981

 

Fine A.rts Council Karachi Pakistan

1992

 

Wijdan and Franco de Courten, Shoman Gallery Amman. Jordan

1993

 

The Gallery, Amman, Jordan

 

Selected Mixed Shows

1961

 

Jordanian Artists' Exhibition, Amman Municipality, Amman, Jordan

1982

 

Jordanian Art Exhibition, Moscow

   

Assila Art Exhibition, Assila, Morocco

   

Four Artists from Jordan, The Wraxall Gallery, London, UK

   

Arab Artists Exhibition, Centre D'Art Vivant de la Ville de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia

1983-84

 

Jordanian Contemporary Art, Ankara State Museum, Ankara, Turkey (toured Istanbul, Turkey).

   

Jordanian Contemporary Art, Zacenta Art Gallery, Warsaw, Krakow and Poznan, Poland

1986

 

Cairo Biennial, Cairo, Egypt

   

Baghdad International Festival of Art, Saddam Centre for the Arts, Baghdad, Iraq.

   

La Vie Royale: L 'Art Contemporaien Jordanie, Musee du Luxembourg, Paris, France

1989

 

Contemporary Art From the Islamic World, Barbican Centre, London, UK.

1990

 

Arab Artists, Damascus and Alleppo, Syria

1991

 

An Arist's Point of View, McIntosh Gallery, Toronto, Canada

   

South of the World, Galleria Civica D' Arte Contemporanea, Marsala, Italy

1991

 

Baghdad International Festival of Art, Saddam Centre for the Arts, Baghdad

1992

 

Contemporary Jordanian Art, International World Fair, Seville, Spain

   

Forces of Change: Artists of the Arab World, The Notional Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. USA

1993

 

Re-creations, Le Centre Culturel Francais, Amman, Jordan

   

Sixth Asian Art Biennial, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

   

Contemporary Jordanian Art, Qasr AI-Bustan, Mascot, Oman

   

Exhibition of Arab Art, Darat al-Funun Arts Centre, Amman, Jordan

1994

 

Laila Shawa: The Walls of Gaza and Wijdan: Calligraphic Abstractlons, The October Gallery, London, UK

 

Selected Public Collections

The British Museum, London, UK

Shoman Foundation, Amman, Jordan

Jordan Notional Gallery, Amman, Jordan

Centre D'Art Vivant de la Ville de Tunis, Tunis, Tunisia

Musee d'Asilah, Asilah, Morocco

National Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amman, Jordan

 

Selected Publications

Contemporary Art From the Islamic World, Scorpion Publishing Co. London, UK, 1989.

Introduction to Islamic Art: Umayyads, AbbaSlds, Andaluslons and Fatlmlds, Vol I (English). Under publication.

Development of Modern Art In Jordan, to be published.