GHADA KHUNJI

Our Last Supper

Photo-collage on canvas

52 x 100 cm

Leonardo Da Vinci is one of many artists to recreate the pivotal moment of The Last Supper. This is my surrealist interpretation symbolically conveying the current state of the world.  Da Vinci's work has puzzled many for its non-inclusion of women in such a pivotal moment, just prior to Jesus' death, the Gospel account says, “Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.” In my work, either the Virgin Mary/Mariam or Mary Magdalene has returned home to find that the apostles have been killed and their hands left as a warning.  Jesus, hurt in the attack, is literally holding on for dear life while the immaculate heart above bleeds. What should be a feast now permeates with death and visceral aggression overlaid with a tea party veneer.

 

Born in Bahrain in 1967, I was brought up in a moderate Muslim family surrounded by children from many nationalities and religions.  In my tableaux, I explore religion through a magnifying glass . . . searching for the common thread of light that we all share.  I lost my father at a very young age. Although a child, I would feel that his essence was always there. I would look up at the sky and talk to him. Simply, God to me was the sky.  Our Father and Jesus had a duality of meaning to me; both different yet parallel to each other.

 

Our Last Supper explores the identity of being a woman; of yearning for the father that left me too soon and the frustration of mishandling the true idea of religion.  In my work, I photograph fragments of personal objects and then stitch together the visuality of questions I ask myself. 

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Our Last Supper, Ghada Khunji

Ghada Khunji is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design and the International Center of Photography's Documentary Program, both in New York. She started her career in the early nineties as a freelance photographer in the fashion industry in New York City, and spent two years as a research assistant for photo agencies, including Black Star and Magnum, followed by eight years as a printer and print manager for a high profile clientele including Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel.

Khunji’s photographs are known for documenting both landscapes and people from all over the world and the inherent dignity of the human element.  In her latest work she focuses the lens on herself by exploring her innermost feelings, thoughts and identity as a woman.

Khunji is the recipient of a significant number of awards, including the Lucie Discovery of the Year (2006), American Photo Magazine’s Image of the Year Award (2007), as well as the Golden Lights Award for Travel. She has exhibited widely in the US and Europe and throughout the Middle East. As the recipient of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award (2012), she won the first prize in the category of portraiture. One of her recent works was acquired by the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) in 2013.

 

In the same year, she was nominated for the Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability. She most recently participated in the Colombo Art Biennale held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.