Fragrance from the Sufi garden by Shems Friedlander

Fragrance from the Sufi garden by Shems Friedlander is a series of wonderfully dreamy photos taken in the 1970s, capturing a spiritual high. This series will be exhibited at The Empty Quarter from 28th April till 15th May. Shems Freidlander will be present, so it will be a wonderful opportunity to meet him.

A senior lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at the American University of Cairo, Shems Friedlander has firsthand knowledge of the Mevlevi Order and is a world expert on the subject.

He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1963 and since then has been prominent in the art world as a photographer, graphic designer, documentary filmmaker and painter, as well as an educator. He is the author of nine books and his work has been exhibited worldwide. His books include The Whirling Dervishes, When you hear Hoofbeats think of a Zebra, The Hidden Treasure and has directed and produced a short film called Rumi: The Wings of Love (excerpt from this film is added below).

The 13th century Sufi master Jalaluddin Rumi spoke of the inner reality of everyday life; the sound of thunder, the flowers, snow, all of nature, as having a hidden meaning that lies beneath its surface. For the artist this is a process of seeing through one’s inner being into a world of continuous impressions, and being present in a moment of active awareness recorded by the camera.

Life is present in the moment. Illusion is a thought of life in the past or the future, both of which do not exist in reality. The past is gone and will never return and the future is not a reality…when it becomes a reality it is the present.

Art is a universal language that can be a bridge to understanding divers cultures of the world. A language that can merge the traditional and contemporary in such a way as to make it a meaningful experience in the world today. The photograph in its still, frozen form, allows one the possibility to experience and reflect on its presence in the stillness of one’s own being.



Exhibition details:
Dates: 28th April - 15th May (Opening on 28th April at 7pm)
Location: The Empty Quarter Gallery, DIFC, Gate Village, Bldg 02
Phone: +971 4 323 1210


Shems Friedlander

What is Sufism?