An exclusive exhibition of the artistic genius. Read more…

In a cultural first for Oman and the Middle East, a large collection of etchings by famed Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is exclusively on display at the Grand Hyatt Muscat, writes Sangeeta S.

Walk through the corridors of Grand Hyatt Muscat and you will be transported back in time. And no, I do not mean to the intricate Arabian motifs that you see around but in fact to Europe of the 16th century. Art connoisseurs in Muscat were recently privy to a large collection of etchings by the Dutch artist Rembrandt. On loan from the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam, the exhibition, titled ‘Rembrandt in Oman’ is made up of over 100 prints by the artist which have never been seen in the region before.

Of all the Rembrandt etchings on display, his self portraits and landscapes are among the most intriguing. Some of these sketches were experiments with facial expressions while others were studies of chiaroscuro (light and shadow), a subject he mastered. Biblical and religious themes, another one of his favourite subjects displayed at the exhibition, accounted for about one third of his entire collection. His fascination with religious subjects is evident in his masterpieces including The Return of the Prodigal Son and many others. The fantastic imagery and striking motifs set Rembrandt’s landscape etchings apart from those of the mainstream 17th century artists. His blend of real and imaginary landscapes breathed life into images that would have otherwise seemed trite.

Hassan Meer, a renowned Omani artist who visited the exhibition feels that events such as these should be held more regularly as they provide an incredible boost to artists, especially to the young talent in the country. While he thinks that such an effort is commendable, he rues about the fact that more needs to be done. He says, “I think the idea to bring the works of a world renowned artist like Rembrandt is commendable, more so because this is the first time that such an initiative is being taken in Oman. Exhibitions such as these should set benchmarks to bring more international artists to Oman. The concept of art is fairly new to Oman and Middle East and as artists we need to see a lot more of these, as exposure and an exchange of ideas is what we need.”

Born in 1606 to a modest family, Rembrandt displayed early signs of a genius. As a young man, he was apprenticed to masters in Leiden and in Amsterdam. Regarded in the same company as other famous artists like Michelangelo and Raphael, Rembrandt was the greatest Dutch painter and a giant in the history of art. He was a prolific etcher, now widely accepted as one of the earliest and greatest practitioners of the art. His work has inspired artists and art lovers around the world for generations. No artist has left a loftier or more penetrating personal testament than Rembrandt van Rijn. Such was the joy we felt as we gradually and almost respectfully walked past the awe-inspiring etchings that have been marvellously showcased and exhibited.

This is one exhibition you certainly wouldn't want to miss so pass by and take a moment to appreciate the work of an artistic master. The paintings are on display till September 19, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Muscat.

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