Dubai – MENA Herald: For the first time Christie’s has recently showcased Dubai Modern and Contemporary sale highlights in New York after nearly 10 years of consecutive auctions held in the Middle East. Ten works of art by seven leading Middle Eastern artists from Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon were received with acclaim by the New Yorker public and will be displayed in Dubai for the pre-sale viewing as of 18 October. Over 80% of the 121 works of art in this auction belonged to private collectors from all over the region, including Dubai, Beirut, Baghdad, as well as Asia, US, Italy, United Kingdom and Japan, to name a few. These works of art are surrounded by another six paintings coming directly from different artist estates, such as Behjat Sadr, Mohammed Nagui and Mahmoud Saïd, which never before have been seen on the secondary art market. Strong sections of Egyptian, Iranian, Palestinian and Lebanese art will add to the high level of quality and rarity which will be offered this October in Dubai. As ever, the sale will provide an overview of the art making in the Middle East over the past 90 years
Charles-Hossein Zenderoudi (b. 1937) – A Masterpiece
SAAD, painted in 1981, is undeniably one of artist’s masterpieces. In this elegant composition, the elongated shapes of the letters, some rotated in a way to become undecipherable, occupy the entire canvas, but seem to be willing to expand outside of the surface plane. A comparable work to Charles-Hossein Zenderoudi’s Tchaar-Bagh, one of his most important masterpieces that was sold at Christie’s in 2008 and has been ever since the world record for the artist at auction, the present work is equally iconic and is unquestionably a museum-quality piece (estimate:$150,000-200,000).
Bahman Mohassess (1931-2010) – A rediscovery
Untitled, a rediscovered composition from 1966, depicts one of Mohassess’ signature figures at the crossroads between reality and fiction. The surrealistic features of the figure are reminiscent of those seen in the metaphysical compositions of artists such as Giorgio de Chirico. In fact, Italy was the artist’s second home. The present figurative yet mythical composition is the apex of Mohassess’ surrealist aesthetics in which he has delicately poured his vision of humanity and reflects on his constructed mythology (estimate: $80,000-120,000).
Monir Farmandarmaian (b. 1924) – A gift from the artist
In 1977 the acclaimed artist gifted her work Mirror Ball to Edwin P. Kennedy, then Director of the Iran-American Society in Tehran, in recognition of their professional collaboration. Whilst living in New York Monir met Andy Warhol, then a young commercial illustrator, and exchanged with him a few of his coloured illustrations of shoes with one of her mirror ball that Warhol famously kept on his desk until his death. The present work reflects on history of the arts and popular culture, but also on the cultural exchange that was taking place before the 1979 revolution between Iran and the United States (estimate: US$80,000-120,000).
Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980) – A reflection on Zen
Sohrab Sepehri’s Trees series is unquestionably the painter’s most sought-after series. Depicted in an austere style that reveals his ascetic intent, Sepehri’s trees are featured without leaves or branches, lacking in individual features as they reflect the artist’s belief in Zen tradition and philosophy, for which Sepehri developed an inclination after travelling to East Asia in the 1960s. Sepehri paints his tree trunks in a way that is reminiscent of the misty landscapes of Japanese hand-painted scrolls and reveals his deep understanding for the essence and the metaphysical meaning of the tree as to be observed in Untitled (from the Tree series) painted early 1970s (estimate: $150,000-200,000 / illustrated).
Ismail Fattah (1934-2004) – Faces in dialogue
Inspired by Mesopotamian and Assyrian iconography, the motif of human faces or masks recurs in numerous paintings by the artist reflecting on both the struggles and the strength of his compatriots through history. Each face in Untitled dated 2002 becomes a metaphor for the people in Iraq; the fighters, the women, the intellectuals revealing the generalised feeling of unity in an unsteady social and political context (estimate: $80,000-120,000 / illustrated).
Dia Al-Azzawi (b. 1939) – An abstracted horse
Widely regarded as one of Iraq’s Modern masters, Dia Al-Azzawi is unmatched in his ability to weave Iraqi folklore and ancient traditions into his sophisticated Modern works. A Mare for the Town painted in 1970 is a modernist rendition of traditional Iraqi art with a superlative interplay of traditional symbolism. The composition is centered around an abstracted horse, a recurring motif in Azzawi’s oeuvre, often a metaphor for the land or the state of Iraq as a lone and gallant horse on an onerous journey to reclaim its former glory that has been tarnished by conflict and political instability (estimate: $40,000-60,000 / illustrated).
Ismail Shammout (1930-2006) – A dialogue of hope
Al Farah (Joy / estimate: $150,000-200,000/illustrated) by Ismail Shammout was painted in the poignant year 1993 when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat signed a Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, commonly referred to as the Oslo Accord, at the White House. Welcoming the new promise of peace, Shammout’s optimism spills onto the canvas stylistically by blending Pointillism, Impressionism, Social Realism and Romanticism into a composition that reflects the joy in the hope that the refugee Palestinians will now be able to return to their homeland. The woman in the composition seems to absorb the hopes and fears of the people, her two arms outstretched as a young boy climbs towards her as if to drape her with a large Palestinian flag.
Bibi Zogbé (1890-1973) – A discovery to be made
Born in Lebanon in 1890, Bibi Zogbé immigrated to Argentina at the age of sixteen. An avant-gardist artist who proudly stood against rules and stereotypes, she settled in Buenos Aires where her professional artistic career began in the 1930s and took an international turn from 1935 onwards. At the end of the Second World War, she lived in Paris and Dakar, where she painted the work entitled Bahias (estimate: $6,000-8,000) and Cristantemos (estimate: $10,000-15,000 / illustrated) from there went on to return to Lebanon in 1947. Known mainly for her decorative depictions of flowers and plants, often those that she reminisced from her homeland Lebanon, Bibi Zogbé plays with colour and depicts joyful compositions filled with symbolism and metaphors with a style that is undeniably modern and graphic.
Aref El-Rayess (1928-2005) – A look through decades on an artist’s career
Three works are offered which explore different periods and stages of Aref El-Rayess’ artistic process. The first work, Untitled (estimate: $20,000-25,000) dated circa 1960s was painted during a decade in which the artist spent a great deal of time travelling between Italy, greater Europe and the United States. The second work Untitled (Martha’s Belly) (estimate: $18,000-22,000) is a work that carries a strong personal and emotional significance as it was painted during the time that his wife, Martha, was pregnant with their daughter Hala, reflecting on an overall cheerful tone. The third work Untitled (estimate: $40,000-60,000 / illustrated) was painted in 1996, taking on a more contemporary vibe where colours and form are juxtaposed.
Saliba Douaihy (1912-1994) – A combination
Douaihy’s bright abstract canvases famously feature vivid hues that are punctuated with sharp, angular lines, which at once separate each colour as well as unite them. Douaihy established his renowned style of abstraction after moving to New York City in the 1950s where he lived for many years and moved away from his earlier academic style to begin his much sought-after series of minimalist abstract paintings. Until his death in 1994, Douaihy continued to paint his minimalist canvases, which remained the epitome of artistic simplicity in both colour and form of which Untitled, painted in the 1970s is a remarkable example (estimate: $60,000-80,000 / illustrated)
Mahmoud Saïd (1897-1964) – The Modern Master of the Middle East
Two extraordinary works by Mahmoud Saïd are being offered directly from his family estate. Négresse aux Bracelets, painted in 1926, belonged to the artist’s only brother Hussein Bek Saïd. The artist’s mastery in depicting his sitter’s honesty and humanity came to another level with this painting. Omitting any superfluous or embellishing details, Saïd represents this nameless plebian woman with a natural and a weary, yet seductive look and succeeds in grasping the essence of her beauty and of her origins through her quintessentially Egyptian features (estimate: $200,000-300,000 / illustrated).
Tahia Halim (1919-2003) – Al Darawish unseen for 40 years
Newly discovered in Sweden, after being preserved in private hands unrevealed to the public for more than forty years is Al Darawish, painted in 1958, the same year Tahia was awarded the Guggenheim price (estimate: $60,000-80,000 /illustrated). Moving away from the European influences she captured during her time in France, her style is immersed in the Egyptian identity and folk culture and influenced by events such as the Suez crisis in 1956. Hinting at the historical events that happened that same year, namely the establishment of the United Arab Republic, Tahia uses her dervishes to instigate a sense of peace.
Marwan (b. 1934) – A Syrian / German profile
Studying with fellow artist Georg Baselitz and living in Germany since the past 50 years, Marwan has magnificently succeeded in deeply reflecting his own identity as a wanderer between two worlds – as a German pioneer of European Modernism and an artist closely connected to the cultural legacy and spiritual tradition of the Arab world. Untitled dated from 1976-1977 is a self-portrait in the sense that it is a psychic profile of the artist, has no physical resemblance to its subject, yet it captures Marwan’s mental state (estimate: $60,000-80,000).
Louay Kayyali (1934-1978) – A lottery ticket
The artist is renowned for his portrayals of everyday scenes that carry underlying political and social commentary. The artist’s depictions have a strong focus on the daily struggles, particularly of the impoverished masses. The young females depicted in Kayyali’s paintings, although poor, elicit a sense of hope and positivity as The Lottery Seller, painted in 1974 at the Café Al Qasser in Aleppo (estimate: $70,000-100,000 / illustrated). The girl has the ticket to prosperity in her hands but cannot reach it due to her state of poverty. But, she is determined to sell the tickets to make at least some money.
Mohammed Melehi (b. 1936) – A square of imagination
Mohammed Melehi is undeniably one of Morocco’s leading most sought-after painters of the 20th century. Having lived in Morocco, Spain, Italy, France, he travelled to the United States in the 1960s. Time Square, painted 1963 (illustrated) and Zipper (each estimated at $35,000-50,000) are both striking canvases created during this period in New York City where he offers the viewer a fascinating glance into his endless and abstracted imagination, as he transforms squares into vibrant beacons of light and emotion. They carry a rhythmic quality that is in line with that of the city he had then discovered. The artist’s emphasis on pattern and his obsession with geometric shapes is nuanced into both of these works.