A canvas painting, set to become the largest in the world, will be auctioned in Dubai this December in a bid to raise $30m. The money will reportedly be used to promote "global digital equality".
Created over a period of 20 weeks, The Journey of Humanity by the Dubai-based British artist Sacha Jafri will measure, upon its estimated completion date of 9 September, 1,800 sq. m—a size larger than two football pitches combined. Currently being painted in the luxury hotel Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai—where it will be unveiled in November—it will reportedly then be divided into 60 smaller canvases (each still measuring a massive 30 sq. m), and sold at a gala dinner in December.
The proceeds will go towards the charity initiative Humanity Inspired, part of a larger project headed by Unicef, Unesco and the UAE-based philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares that aims to mitigate the gap in digital access between developing and industrialised countries.
Eton-educated Jafri is described by Humanity Inspired as "widely regarded as one of the world's most celebrated living artists [who] has raised more than $60m dollars for charities across the world from the sale of his art". Online sources for his auction records are, however, somewhat scant. While a small number of UK and UAE media sources claim that a work of his sold for £2.9m last year, his highest entry in Artnet's auction record database stands at 2,160,000 TWD with fees ($70,745) for a painting sold at the Taiwan-based auction house Ravenel in 2019.
Jafri also claims that his brain, which has been scientifically studied, produces "really deep theta waves", explaining "that's what is generated when your subconscious is hard at work".
When completed, the work will be submitted to the Guiness Book of World Records to claim the starry title of largest canvas painting ever created. However, Jafri is no stranger to the media spotlight as he reportedly counts the former US president Barack Obama (whose portrait he once painted describing him as an "honorary Muslim") and the musician Madonna as collectors.
The initiative has been endorsed by over 100 celebrities, including the footballer David Beckham, the author Deepak Chopra and the Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria.