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Sale of Modern & Contemporary Middle Eastern Art in London this Summer at Bonhams
A key lot is by M.F. Hussain, the Indian artist, resident in Doha and London. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Work by Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern and South Asian artists from eight countries – Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan and Sri-Lanka - will be on sale at Bonhams on June 1st.

Among the notable names are works by Sual al-Attar, Fadi Barrage, Ismael Fattah, M.F. Hussain, Sadanand K. Bakre, Raza, and George Keyt.

Many of the works are new to the market having been in private collections for 40 to 50 years.

A selection of Modern Iraqi art from the 60’s to the 80’s is at the core of the Middle Eastern section and offers collectors the chance to acquire early and attractively priced paintings by Suad al-Attar and Ismael Fattah among others.

A key lot is by M.F. Hussain, the Indian artist, resident in Doha and London. The picture depicts the artist’s characteristic subject matter and has been in private hands since the early 1970’s. It is estimated to sell for £70,000 to £90,000.

An exciting element of the sale is the big presence of Bakre, part of the Bombay Progressive Artists Group. The works in the sale work that covers every period in his career in this sale including the first sculpture to come to auction. Only a few of Bakre’s modernist sculptures have been seen by the public, one of them being in the renowned Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.

A specialist in Bonhams Middle East and South Asian Department, Katia Vraimakis, comments: “Bakre is still relatively undiscovered. His work is powerful but has not been promoted like his contemporaries. The market which took a downturn is now coming back and the best works continue to attract top prices.” Bonhams was the first auction house to sell a painting from the artist in 2005 and has been offering his work with success ever since, both in London and Dubai. Bonhams currently holds the top three records for a Bakre, the highest price at £48,000, which was more than three times the estimate.

A work by Sri Lankan artist George Keyt has particular relevance for the British art enthusiasts. When still a very young artist George was discovered by a British army soldier, Martin Russell, who became his patron, setting up a first exhibition of his work in London. From that 1940’s exhibition comes a painting, lot 7, estimated at £12,000-18,000 that has been in private hands for decades.

George Keyt (1901-1993) is often considered Sri Lanka's most distinguished modern painter. Keyt’s dominant style is influenced by cubism and also influenced, he has said, by his contemporary Henri Matisse.

Many exhibitions of his work have also been held in India, London and other European and American centres. His pictures are to be found in various museums and galleries abroad, as well as in private collections in Sri Lanka and throughout the world.

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