DUBAI - Christie’s October 26th, 2010 Dubai sale of Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art is blessed with a further selection of works from the renowned Farsi Collection, one of the most comprehensive groups of modern Egyptian art in private hands and a diverse range of 20 works from modern and contemporary Turkish artists.
Michael Jeha, Managing Director of Christie’s Dubai, said: “We are delighted to have been entrusted with the great private collection of Egyptian art which has in turn attracted a wealth of individual collectors, from 15 different countries, to consign other significant works to this, our ninth sale series in the Middle East. I believe this is one of Christie’s richest sale yet in terms of its diversity and rarity.”
The Farsi Collection
Dr. Farsi’s private collection is recognized as the most comprehensive group of modern Egyptian art in private hands. The group of 30 works to be offered at Christie’s in Dubai includes paintings representing many of Egypt’s most famous 20th century artists such as Mahmoud Said, Ragheb Ayad, Abul Hadi El-Gazzar, Hamed Nada, Seif and Adham Wanly, and Adam Henein, for which new world auction records have been established earlier this year in Dubai.
Chafic Abboud (1926-2004) is represented by three works from the studio of the artist which include an oil on canvas painted in 1992, Premiers Gestes (estimate: $70,000-100,000 lot 32) and Untitled (estimate: $60,000-80,000 lot 34). Six works are also offered in the sale the proceeds of which are to benefit the forthcoming Shafic Abboud Retrospective at the Institut du Monde Arabe, in Paris, in 2011. With a combined estimate of $130,000, the six works include three by Abboud and one by fellow Lebanese artist Hussein Madi.
Two works by Paul Guiragossian (1926-1993), dominate this section of the sale; La Foule, 1987, exhibited earlier this year in Beirut, is reminiscent of the warm exotic tones used by Fauve artists and shows a feize-like group of women standing in line facing the viewer and reflecting Guiragossian’s preoccupation with women and motherhood, (estimate: 100,000-130,000 lot 38). His Claire Obscure (shown here) also painted in 1987 but with fewer figures and painted in thick strokes and larger blocks of colour is rare to find among the artist’s work and is a technique reserved for his most monumental compositions. Nothing similar has been sold at auction before and it is estimated at $100,000 - 130,000 (lot 39).
The highlight of this section of the sale is Fahrelnissa Zeid’s (Turkish / Jordanian 1900-1991) exuberant Dervishes, painted circa 1950s. As a young aristocratic woman, Zeid, lived in Paris joining the so-called Ecole de Paris group of artists in the 1940s. She later married into the Jordanian Royal Family. The whirling dance depicted here is a Sufi tradition where the goal is to reach Majbhd, a sacred ecstasy. The dervishes wear their traditional white whirling skirts and distinctive tall hats and the work is estimated at $80,000-100,000 (lot 31). A panoramic view of Istanbul by Devrim Erbil (b.1937) inspired by the jewel-like illustrations of the city by the 16th century Turkish artist Matrakci Nasuh, is estimated at $70,000-90,000 (lot 108). (A separate press release is available on Turkish Art.)
Eight works by Fateh Moudarres (1922-1999) include Untitled from circa 1970 (estimate: $140,000-180,000 – lot 40). The striped painting is reminiscent of the walls of the Mamluk buildings in Damascus with its alternate strips of black and paler stone merged onto the bodies of the figures in the crowd. It also features Moudarres’ childhood nightmare figure of a ravenous dog which he referred to as ‘the Beast’ and used in his paintings after the war of 1967. Another highlight is a view of Maaloula by Louay Kayyali (1934-1978), depicting a tiny village to the northeast of Damascus, built into the rugged hillside at high altitude. Maaloula from the Arabic word meaning ‘entrance’ is the only place where the western dialect of Aramaic, the language of Christ, is still spoken. All students of Fine Art at Damascus University, where Fateh Moudaress and Louay Kayyali both taught, are required to paint in Maaloula and therefore it is unsurprising that both artists used the village as a subject for many of their paintings. The example in the sale is a rare and spectacular version from the 1960s and is estimated at $50,000-70,000 – lot 92. Kayyali’s Ice Cream Seller, painted in 1972, is also included in the sale with an estimate of $90,000- 120,000 (lot 90). There are also eight works by Syrian artists from an Italian private collection.
Aside from the private collection mentioned above, the highlight of the sale is a large oil on canvas triptych by the leading Iranian artist Mohammed Ehsai (b. 1939). Entitled Banquet (lot 79 – illustrated page 1) and painted in 2009, the monochrome black and white design reflects his fascination with calligraphy and is estimated at $350,000-500,000.
Farhad Moshiri’s (b. 1963), Love, (shown here) a rare example from early in his Jars series, shows a jar inscribed with Eshgh the Arabic word for Love. By folding and crushing the canvas Moshiri mimicks the cracquelure effect of traditional earthenware pots (estimate: $150,000-250,000 – lot 71). Moshiri’s Mobile Talker, from his Candy Store series and painted in 2007 shows a fashionable young woman in a headscarf holding her ‘phone, the outline of her face, features and hands traced in blobs of glitter all superimposed onto a multi-tiered cake. This saccharine, artificial image plays to Moshiri’s interest in the new media-savvy generation of young Iranians, his love of Pop Art and issues of consumerism (estimate: $120,000-180,000 - lot 106).
Untitled, one of only ten or twelve abstract works by Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980), painted in 1970 with primary coloured lines and shapes set against a dark background carries an estimate of $200,000-300,000 (lot 80). It was exhibited last year in a retrospective of the artist’s work at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. An unnerving oil on canvas by Afshin Pirhashemi (b. 1974) Seduction, (shown here) painted this year, shows six women dressed in black robes advancing towards the viewer holding swords and pistols, each applying bright red lipstick??. Exploring the complexities of life in today’s Iran, it is estimated at $80,000-120,000 (lot 81). Kambiz Sabri’s (b.1967) Red Dive from 2008 is a red Toshiba television with a collection of red plastic toys attached, estimate $7,000- 10,000 (lot 114).