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British Artist Raises $62 Million for Children’s Charities

Image Courtesy of CNN Style

By Angela Hickey

The world’s largest canvas painting has been recently sold at a Dubai auction for a grand total of 228 million dirhams, or $62 million, making it one of the most expensive artworks ever sold. 

Painted by British artist, Sacha Jafri, “The Journey of Humanity,” has become one of the largest canvas artworks in history, measuring a grand total of 17,000 square feet, or approximately four NBA regulation basketball courts. Jafri painted the work in order to raise money for children affected by the ongoing pandemic.

Originally, Jafri worked on the painting in pieces, cutting it into 70 panels and intending to sell each separately for about $30 million apiece. But, he was pleasantly surprised to discover that Dubai-based businessman, Andre Abdoune, had offered more than double his original asking price in order to buy them all. 

According to an article done by CNN Style, this sale puts Jafri’s name among the world’s most expensive living artists. The $62 million raised by “The Journey of Humanity” has only been beaten at auction by the works of Jeff Koons, David Hockney, and the digital artist Beeple, whose NFT image “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” sold via Christie’s Auction Company for over $69 million earlier this month.

This is all a part of Jafri’s humanity-inspired initiative, with many of the proceeds made during the auction being donated to UNICEF, UNESCO, The Global Gift Foundation and Dubai Cares for programs related to children’s education, health care, sanitation, and digital connectivity. 

In a press release issued by Dubai Cares, Jafri described the sale as “a moment for humanity.”

“At the beginning of my ‘Humanity Inspired’ initiative, I had a vision to reconnect our broken planet through the hearts, minds and souls of the children of the world,” Jafri stated. “I feel in my heart that we have come one step closer to achieving this tonight, thanks to Andre.”

This artwork now holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest art canvas, created in a ballroom at the Atlantis The Palm hotel in Dubai, where Jafri was based when the United Arab Emirates introduced lockdown measures to control the spread of COVID-19 last year. The individual panels took several months to complete, featuring abstract brushwork and drip-painting in a style Jafri dubs “magical realism.” The canvas was divided into four connected segments, with the first representing “the soul of the Earth,” and the others alluding to nature, humanity and the wider universe, Jafri said.

Jafri sights his influence from the children who had inspired the piece in the first place. He had called for children around the world to contribute their own artworks centered on the themes of connection, separation, and isolation during the pandemic. The submissions were printed out on paper and incorporated into the huge canvas.

“I asked the children of the world to send in their artworks — how they feel now, their emotions,” he explained last year. “We, as adults, are finding this hard. We found the last five months very difficult, very confusing, very frustrating, and quite scary. But imagine how a 4-year-old child feels.”Parts of the artwork will be on display at Jafri’s career retrospective, which is currently showing at the Leila Heller Gallery in Dubai.

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