Gibran Khalil Gibran ‘The Wanderer’
'The Wanderer,' by Gibran Khalil Gibran. The original artwork was drawn in 1923. It is a charcoal painting measuring, 27.5x21.5 cm. Courtesy of the Gibran National Committee.
A face is many things, it is often the first and the last thing one remembers. It is a canvas of your life, from the deep wrinkles caused by a smile, to the ridges in the skin from worry and frowning, to the sparkle in one’s eyes —and to the lack of it—a face, in some ways, is your story. Drawn here by the legendary Gibran Khalil Gibran, sometimes spelled in English as Kahlil Gibran, the ‘wanderer’ has a thoughtful look about him, perhaps a contemplating one, with his eyes full of emotion, a possible somber look? Or is the wanderer at peace with his fate of wandering?
Dating to 1931, this beautiful piece perhaps reveals one of the most important core characteristics of Gibran. That in the year of his death, aged 48, he painted a ‘wandering' face, embodying his life long journey as a wandering soul, always seeking and poetically trying to understand the world around him. In one way, until the end, Gibran, the writer, the philosopher, and the artist, remained a true wanderer of words, and worlds.
Art and writings often outlive their creators. Therefore, Gibran will live on, through his writings, his insights and his drawings, and as long as people remain curious, they will be explorers of the past, present and what the future may hold.
I leave you here with one of the great master's poems, and what it may tell you about his view on faces.
I have seen a face with a thousand countenances, and a face that was but a single countenance as if held in a mould.
I have seen a face whose sheen I could look through to the ugliness beneath, and a face whose sheen I had to lift to see how beautiful it was.
I have seen an old face much lined with nothing, and a smooth face in which all things were graven.
I know faces, because I look through the fabric my own eye weaves, and behold the reality beneath.
Thank you, Gibran, for all that you left behind, for us to reflect over.
Rym Al-Ghazal is an award-winning journalist, author, peace and cultural ambassador, and a storyteller, one who also remains a wanderer.