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Christie’s To Offer An Exceptional Selection Of International Modern And Contemporary Art In Dubai In April

Presenting Exciting Works by Middle East artists on the International Auction Platform for the first time

Christie’s, the world’s leading arts business, will present 18 new Middle Eastern artists to the international art market in their upcoming sale of International Modern and Contemporary Art in Dubai on 27 April 2010. The auction will comprise 125 exceptional paintings and sculptures from both new and leading, established artists from the UAE, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Turkey, and Europe. Highlights of the sale will include works by the established artists such as Parviz Tanavoli, Mohammed Ehsai, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Ali Omar Ermes, Fateh Moudarres and Farhad Moshiri alongside works by artists never before presented at auction such as the Turkish artists Nuri Kuzucan, Fahrelnissa Zeid and Sukran Moral; or the Iranian artists Y.Z. Kami, Roya Akhavan and Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakhar as well as the Lebanese Zena El-Khalil or the Palestinian Steve Sabella. The auction will take place at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel.

“We are delighted to include works by many new artists in our upcoming sale reinforcing our commitment to developing the market in the region and demonstrating a stronger focus on Contemporary art from the region which will appeal to the international market”, said William Lawrie, Head of Sale. “We are also presenting a more select group of highly important works by Modern artists; many sourced directly from private collectors outside the Middle East. These works will enter the auction market for the first time and will exchange hands for only the second time, having been acquired directly from the artists in the 1960s. The result is that by this curated sale, collectors can really enjoy tracing the progression of this period and region of art”.

The sale offers three exceptional works by the renowned Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian, b. 1937). The main highlight is Poet and Cage (estimate: $300,000-400,000 / AED1,100,000-1,500,000). Poets are an important theme in Tanavoli’s work that implies that they have the most liberated souls of all humanity. Architecture and poetry combine in his Poets series - the figures are built of components which recall Islamic architecture, whilst part of the body is covered in an illegible poetic text. A cage forms the chest of this bronze figure which alludes to the home of a nightingale. Here the cage is empty and this absence symbolizes disappointment experienced by the poet, who must by necessity suppress his passion for his surrounding environment. Pink Heech (estimate: $80,000-120,000 / AED300,000-440,000), is composed of three letters in Persian language; the single word Heech means “nothing”. Tanavoli’s use of the Heech illustrates the transforming power of his art - it is the synonymous with creativity itself: it is the void filled by the creativity of the artist’s imagination. Nothing, through his shaping hand, becomes something. The 1970 fiberglass Heech was produced in an edition of only six, each one in a different colour, one of which was sold in these rooms in February 2007. The third sculpture by the artist is Farhad and Shirin, a rare figurative work by Tanavoli, executed in the early 1970s (estimate: $40,000-60,000 / AED 150,000-220,000). The story of Farhad and Shirin is an ancient Persian love story.

Fateh Moudarres’ Farewell To The Gods In Beirut was recently part of the Italia-Arabia show which took place in the Chelsea Art Museum beginning of 2009 and is now offered for the first time at auction (estimate: $150,000-200,000 / AED550,000-730,000). The picture is dated 1986, ten years into the Lebanese Civil War which divided Beirut, the city which Moudarres had adopted as home. In this monumental work Moudarres is protesting to the various Arab leaders, including the religious leaders, accusing them of turning their backs on his beloved city. Typical of his work, elements are connected and interconnected, objects and figures are treated similarly which breaks down the boundaries between them. The affect is akin to the surface of mosaic showing a natural flow of people, faces, women and children, trapped between the sky and the earth. Other works by Moudarres in the sale include a rare and early Self-Portrait, dated 1959 (estimate: $35,000-50,000 / AED130,000-180,000); Mother and Child, painted early 1960s (estimate: $50,000-70,000 / AED190,000-250,000) and The Lovers from the same period offered with an estimate of $35,000-45,000 / AED130,000-160,000.

Eshgh (Love) by Mohammed Ehsai (estimate: $100,000-150,000 / AED370,000-550,000) reflects the continuation of an artistic movement which combines traditional techniques with modern artistic form. Ehsai’s entire oeuvre can be divided into two categories: the Eternal Alphabet and Calligraphy-Paintings. The latter shows Eshai’s visual language and is strongly influenced by structural calculations and the use of calligraphy in architecture. The austere distribution of words within the frame is indicative of a supreme order derived from centuries of utopian idealism within religion.

Flying Carpet by Farhad Moshiri was recently exhibited at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland; created in 2007, it is number one from an edition of three (estimate: $250,000-350,000 / AED910,000-1,300,000). The stack of thirty-two carpets, each mechanically mutilated and bearing a hole the shape of a generic fighter jet, with a corresponding stack of fighter-jet shaped carpet off-cuts, sends a barrage of contrasting signals. The juxtaposition of domestic soft furnishing with an image of military hardware is suggestive either for foreign interference bringing hardship into the home or else is emblematic of the determination and defiance of the Iranian state in the face of the aggressor. Moshiri uses the motif of the carpets as visual shorthand for Iran and Persian culture, which carries with it the connotations of the unique and handmade but by stacking 32 factory made carpets together and the repetition of cutting out of each the same shape recalls Andy Warhol’s well-known depiction of Campell’s Soup Cans or Brillo Boxes.

Ali Omar Ermes’ Al-Khaa Al-Ashhab (estimate: $80,000-100,000 / AED300,000-360,000) is an inimitable interpretation of the Arabic letter. The monochrome palette is a deliberate play on the word Ash-hab, which means greyness. The painting includes lines from a poem by the tenth century prince and warrior, Abi Faris Al-Hamadani, describing his willingness and ability to counteract pain and disappointment, to remain positive during hardship, and on the noble way to treat others, adds another dimension to the meaning of the work, while the formal inclusion of the text adds a delicacy to the overpowering presence of the central motif, the letter khaa.

The Iranian-born artist Charles Hossein Zenderoudi turned his focus in the late 1960s towards the Persian letterform as the sole motif on his canvases and the compositions consisted solely of indecipherable Persian words, superimposed on each other or in variety of scales, deliberately distorted and subverting the rules of calligraphy. The sale includes his work DAL+ASB+LAM, painted in 1970 (estimate: $150,000-200,000 / AED550,000-730,000), which is part of his oeuvre where he employed exuberant colours which he combined with his growing repertoire of abstracted Farsi letters to produce ever more lyrical compositions. 


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