Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ivan Aguéli's art

Aguéli, Landscape with tower
Aguéli, Palm grove

Although Ivan Aguéli is best known to readers of this blog as the proto-Traditionalist who introduced Guénon to Sufism (and was also instrumental in introducing the French public to Ibn Arabi), he is still best known in his native Sweden as a painter. The Museum of Art in Gothenburg, Sweden's second city, is currently exhibiting six of his works, all small format, as part of its permanent exhibition of "Nordic art at the turn of the century." Pride of place is given to "Landscape with tower" (shown above, left), which may be an imaginary landscape, as there is something of the minaret about the tower. Then comes "Palm grove," which is probably an Egyptian scene, and some European landscapes (not shown here).

The same exhibition also has a large oil by Prince Eugen, the member of the Swedish royal family whose grant to the exiled Aguéli in Barcelona arrived too late, after Aguéli's death. It was Prince Eugeen who then took charge of and preserved Aguéli's paintings, some of which were acquired by the Gothenburg museum in 1920.

Birger, Scandinavian Artists' Lunch
Bernard, Still life with jug
For a Swedish painter to go to Paris at the end of the nineteenth century was not unusual. The museum also has a large oil of the Scandinavian Artists' Lunch at the Café Ledoyen, evidently an annual event. This lunch was in 1886, and the painting does not include Aguéli, who had then only just arrived in Paris.

Finally, the museum also has an oil by Emile Bernard, the French painter in whose studio Aguéli at one point worked in Paris, who is said also to have had an interest in esotericism and in Egypt, though I have not confirmed this. One can see the influence of Bernard on some of Aguéli's other paintings, though not those in the Gothenburg museum or in this blog post.

My thanks to Göran Larsson and Henrik Bogdan of the University of Gothenburg whose invitation to lecture in Gothenburg (on "Sufism as Western esotericism") is what led to my visit to the Museum of Art there.


Lord Bassington-Bassington said...

Will the lecture about Sufism be turned into an article? Pretty please?

Mark Sedgwick said...

The lecture won't be turned into an article--it's just too big a topic to deal with properly in an article--but I am actually hoping to turn into into part of a book. Would that do?

Lord Bassington-Bassington said...

That would be fabulous! I can hardly think of anyone better suited for the job, as both your books about Islam are excellent.