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Founded in 1979, October Gallery, in central London, exhibits innovative, contemporary art from around the world. For over 40 years, October Gallery has pioneered the development of the Transvangarde - the trans-cultural avant-garde.



Wijdan Al-Hashemi is 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.

Wijdan Biography

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.
October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL Tel: + 44 (0)20 7242 7367