Joseph Fenianos president of Gibran National Committee
Prestige issue 292, Oct-Nov. 2018
President of the Gibran National Committee, Joseph Fenianos is at the head of an institution that contributes to the promotion of the artistic and literary heritage of the author.
«The Committee preserves and spreads the intellectual heritage of Gibran»
When was Gibran National Committee created, can you describe this entity? Gibran National Committee was created in 1934 by Decree No. 1618 of the Lebanese Ministry of Interior. The committee is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It aims to conserve and spread the intellectual, literary and artistic heritage of Gibran Khalil Gibran. The committee left to Bcharré all of Gibran’s artistic legacy, which is at Gibran Museum and includes 440 authentic paintings. Moreover, the committee runs a music school that includes nearly 100 students who take free courses in various musical specialties, and a public library founded in the 70s and contains 40,000 books.
What does the management of the heritage left by the famous painter and writer Gibran Khalil Gibran comprise? In 1932, the contents of Gibran’s studio in New York, his furniture, his private library, his manuscripts and his 440 original paintings (oil paintings, charcoal, watercolor), were sent by Marie Haskell and her sister Mariana to his village. Today, these objects constitute the content of the Museum which was once a convent of Carmelite monks. Besides the paintings and books of the Prophet, there are books and studies in the museum whose subject is the multiple artist and the philosopher. This distinguished place is a sanctuary frequented by more than 70,000 Lebanese and foreign visitors a year.
Are there archives or paintings of Gibran Khalil Gibran abroad? Yes of course. After Gibran’s death, some of his works were distributed by Mary Haskell in multiple institutions and museums in the United States, including the «Fogg Art Museum» in Cambridge-Massachusetts, the «Metropolitan Museum of Art» in New York City, as well as other institutions. She wanted the whole world to discover «these treasures». Haskell donated in 1950, her collection of nearly a hundred works to Telfair. This collection includes: the famous painting «The Vision of Adam and Eve», six illustrations featured in his latest book «The Garden of the Prophet», and other prototypes, as well as drawings and sketches on Haskell personal letterheads that represented a gesture of gratitude and a proof of love from Gibran to Mary. It is important to note that Haskell sent all the letters exchanged with Gibran, even love letters, to the University of North Carolina, which uses advanced methods of writing protection, which has preserved this legacy in good condition until today and respected Mary Haskell’s will to expose it to the public.
«Exhibitions of paintings by Gibran Khalil Gibran
are organized around the world.»
Which criteria are taken into consideration in the choice of the director of Gibran National Committee, as well as the board of directors and for which period? The people of Bcharré choose the committee by secret ballot for a four-year term. The members of the Committee represent all the families of Bcharré and are culturally and intellectually qualified. The president and the board of directors are chosen by the members of the Committee who are currently fifteen and who share the responsibilities, in order to spread and to promote the works of Gibran and to respect his last wills.
As president of the Gibran National Committee, what are the future projects of the Committee? Many projects are running. Every year in September, we organize an art festival entitled «On Gibran’s steps». This artistic event takes place in the center of the village in front of the house where Gibran was born. Young painters, sculptors, amateurs, photographers and directors have the chance to exhibit their works inspired by Gibran’s universe. This year we will give up the celebration of cultural and artistic diversity, by organizing folklore and artistic evenings in collaboration with the embassies of foreign countries in Lebanon. These evenings present a sort of human rapprochement and offer the public the chance to get to know foreign cultures better and to appreciate the history and civilization of the participants in these festivities. In recent years, we have hosted the embassies of Indonesia, the United States, China, Mexico, Russia … Actually, the Committee is preparing the production of a film about Gibran’s life. This project, as important as it is expensive, needs a lot of funding so that the realization and the content are up to the great reputation of the Lebanese philosopher. In autumn, an exhibition of original Gibran paintings will be held in Melbourne, Australia. Interview Conducted by R.S.
Learn about Gibran museum by following the link below: