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Sotheby's annual modern and contemporary Arab and Iranian art sale     
Hadieh Shafie, 10450 Pages. Estimate: £4,000-6,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby's London announced a sale of Modern and Contemporary Arab and Iranian which will take place on Tuesday, 4th of October, 2011. Comprised of 123 lots, the sale will include major works by leading Modern masters such as Louay Kayyali, Fateh Moudarres and Aref el Rayess, as well as key pieces by some of the foremost Contemporary artists, among them Farhad Moshiri, Ziad Antar and Yousef Nabil. The sale will also be highlighted by seven Iraqi works, including a work by Jawad Salim. The sale is expected to realize in excess of £2.5 million.

Commenting on the forthcoming sale, Lina Lazaar, Deputy Director and International Specialist, Sotheby’s Middle East, said: “We are very pleased with the timing of our sale in the lead up to London’s Frieze Art Fair, as its mood of experimentation and atmosphere of openness will allow us to offer a range of works by artists new to Sotheby’s. This is an exciting time when the market is more open to seeking out new talent and we are pleased to present a sale which is inclusive of both modern and contemporary artists. The sale will offer a group of 10 Contemporary Iranian works which were generously donated by the artists themselves and will be sold in support to Kids Company”.

Following on from the success of Sotheby’s 2010 Contemporary Arab and Iranian sale, Sotheby’s is delighted to present two works by Sohrab Sepehri and Bahman Mohasses. Mohasses’s Untitled (estimated £50,000-70,000) provides an enlightening perspective into the isolated nature of Mohasses' disposition. He felt confined by his Iranian identity when he was living in Rome and by developing his distinct style, he fell further into fashioning fresco-style paintings juxtaposed with harsh realism. Undoubtedly one of the most important and sought-after artists from Iran, Mohasses' work allows fascinating insight into the psychology of the artist’s genius and the power behind his tormented works.

Sohrab Sepehri’s Tree Trunks Series was painted during a spell in New York. The trees were a solace to the artist and became an escape from the hustle of Manhattan and the pressures on his time. This desire to retreat to his home of desert and trees that manifested itself in this cycle of paintings is attested by his immediate withdrawal to Tehran and then to Kashan on completion of the commissions. One of the most highly acclaimed and reserved of Iran's modern masters, Sohrab Sepehri, poet and artist, has left an indelible mark on the Iranian art scene. His Untitled from this important series, is estimated at £200,000-300,000.

A group of three distinct works by Farhad Moshiri represent three stages in the artist’s personal artistic development. An early work by Moshiri, Blue Dome (From the Persian Motif Series) was painted at a time of hopefulness and perhaps rediscovery, when Iran was opening up to the West. While the subject matter of the dome is recognisable from the cultures of the East, the style in which it is drawn is bordering on the modern modes of Western art. This work is estimated at £60,000-80,000.

Space Station is one of Moshiri's most striking hand-embroidered works to come to public auction. Estimated at £100,000-150,000, Space Station epitomises the artist’s experimentation in juxtaposing the crafts of Iran with the modernity of the West. By utilising a material and technique that is so inherently Iranian in the context of a work of art, Moshiri contrasts the traditional with the modern.

The third work by Moshiri is his 9's On Yellow, estimated at £150,000-250,000.

New Artists
A very exciting work in the New Artists component of the sale is Iranian artist Hadieh Shafie’s 10450 Pages, estimated at £4,000-6,000. Process, repetition and time are all essential to Shafie’s oeuvre; all of which is rooted in the influence of Islamic arts and crafts. In this novel work, Shafie's ink and paper painting is made up of tightly scrolled and brightly coloured rolls of paper-hide with handwritten text. The title of each of her works documents the number of individual strips of paper that complete the piece. Shafie has been shortlisted for this year's Jameel Prize to be awarded at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London at the end of September.

Also included in the sale is Iranian artist Navid Nuur, who exhibited in this year's Arsenale at the Venice Biennale, showing two works from the same series as the present work. Inspired by the monochrome works of artists such as Anish Kapoor and Mark Rothko, Nuur observed that these artworks all feed from a certain eye coordination movement; the same movement used when looking at any single monochrome work. His Study (From The Eye Codex Of The Monochrome Series), executed in 1984-2010, is a unique work estimated at £3,000-4,000.

A particular highlight is the appearance of Scratching on Things I Could Disavow Parts 2 & 3 by leading Lebanese artist Walid Raad, whose work focuses on researching, documenting and preserving the contemporary history of Lebanon. This sale marks Raad’s first appearance at any auction house since his work was sold by Sotheby’s in London in a 2006 auction to raise funds for the Whitechapel Gallery. Scratching on Things I Could Disavow Parts 2 & 3 is estimated at £15,000-20,000.

Artists from GCC countries
Bahraini artist Rahim al Sharif’s Face from 2008 is based on the silver hand-mirrors that women were using in the 19th and 20th centuries often with brushes on the other side. In the present work, broken fragments of the mirror portray a different element of the character's life while simultaneously bringing that story together to complete a portrait. This work is estimated at £15,000-25,000.

Further highlights include Qatari artist Youssef Ahmad’s Arabic I, estimated at £18,000-22,000, and Bahraini artist Fajr al Khalifa’s Untitled, estimated at £7,000-10,000.

Iraqi Modern Art
Sotheby’s sale of Modern and Contemporary Arab and Iranian Art will offer seven works by seven Iraqi artists, collectively estimated at £182,000-248,000. Artists working in Iraq, in the 1970s were notably active in the art world, exhibiting in Biennales and creating excitement across the Arab world and beyond.

Discussing the Iraqi section of the sale Ruba Asfahani, Specialist in Sotheby’s Middle East, said: “The period of turmoil during which these artists worked is of great significance, as the artists sought to learn innovative means to create art, and their effort led to the creation of some of the Middle East’s finest work. The significance of modern Iraqi art is determined by its artist’s focus on creating a specifically Iraqi, or at the very least, Arab art. By merging their Western experiences with their own roots and traditions, these artists have developed a unique movement characterized by intellectuality, practical exploration and a continued momentum.”

Highlighting the Iraqi Art component is Jawad Salim, a decisive figure in the Iraqi movement. His Portrait Of A Girl (circa 1950), is estimated at £70,000-90,000. His capacity to create remarkable sculptures and paintings inevitably led to his impact on the history of Iraqi art. Selim always expressed a strong ambition to be a part of the movement which would reassert national pride and rebuild a distinctive Iraqi artistic identity. The present work is not only one of the earliest works by the artist to be included at auction but also the very first realistic portrait to be offered.

A further highlight from the Iraq component of the sale is Dia Azzawi’s Visit Of Al Kassim (est. £20,000-30,000).

A selection of calligraphic works, including works by Iranian artists Ebrahim Olfat and Mohammed Ehsai, and Tunisian artist Nja Mahdaoui. Ehsai’s Untitled is estimated at £60,000-80,000, and Mahdaoui’s Walegh (Graphemes On Canvas) at £25,000-35,000.

10 Works To Be Sold to Benefit Kids Company
The sale will also include a section of 10 Contemporary Iranian works donated by artists which will be sold to benefit children’s charity Kids Company. Founded by Camila Batmanghelidjh in 1996, the charity provides practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable children and young people. Kids Company have a hugely successful arts programme, encompassing visual arts, new media, fashion, music, drama and dance. Children who have been subjected to abuse and neglect often find it hard to communicate their feelings through words. The arts provide a vital outlet for traumatic memories and a means of processing painful experiences.

Among the works offered for sale are Reza Derakshani, You Can’t Touch That (From The Mirror Of Time Series), estimated at £20,000-30,000 and Sadegh Tirafkan’s Camilla In Wonderland #1, estimated at £4,000-6,000.

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