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02/03/2017 - 07:00hs

Course to cover art and civilization in Islam

The São Paulo Museum of Sacred Art is offering the course ‘Islamic Civilization and Art’ from March 4 to May 6. It will rely on artworks to illustrate the historical development of societies throughout the Arab world.

São Paulo – The São Paulo Museum of Sacred Art will host the course Arte e Civilização Islâmica ( Islamic Civilization and Art) from March 4 to May 6. The lessons will cover Middle East and North Africa cities that were hubs of artistic and social development at different points throughout the history of Islam.

“The expansion of Islam happened very quickly, and it changed the political geography of metropolises, which became culture and art production centers,” explains Plinio Freire Gomes, who holds a master’s in History from the University of São Paulo (USP) and will teach the classes.

Out of the cities that the course will address, Gomes points out that Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo were especially key. “Damascus was where Islamic art grew immensely refined. It was a fine, expensive brand of art,” he says.

As for Baghdad, the professor explains that the Iraqi capital is an artificially-built city not unlike Brasília, in Brazil. “It was built by the Abassida dynasty in the 8th century. It was designed to the the capital of a mammoth empire,” he says.

According to him, since the Iraqi city was very populated, artistic manifestations had to be grandiose. Therefore, the refined mosaics of Damascus were replaced with buildings made from bricks and stucco.

Cairo, in turn, brings “another context” to the development of Islamic art. “Cairo represents the gateway to Islam in North Africa and the Mediterranean. It features an art that’s more refined and mediated by theological knowledge,” he notes.

During the course, Gomes will also teach students about arabesques, which are widespread geometrical figures in Islamic art. “Arabesques are texts and they are meant to be interpreted. I will provide the keys for people to be able to read it themselves, to interpret the geometrical shapes and curves,” he says.

Quick facts

Course: Islamic Civilization and Art
March 4 to May 6 (six lessons total, in non-consecutive Saturdays)
São Paulo Museum of Sacred Art
Avenida Tiradentes, 676, Luz. Tiradentes Metro Station
Price: BRL 350, one-off payment or BRL 420 in three installments
Enrolment: mfatima@museuartesacra.org.br
For the full program and additional information go to http://museuartesacra.org.br/pt/acontece/exibir/curso-livre-arte-e-civilizacao-islamica-1

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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