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The Dubai Sale: Forthcoming auction of Art from the middle east announced at Ayyam Auctions
Mohannad Orabi, 'Self Portrait' Signed, Dated, 150 X 150 cm. Mixed Media on Canvas 2011. Estimate: US$ 10,000 - 15,000.

DUBAI.- Ayyam Auctions announces its forthcoming Dubai Sale. To be held on October 24 at Ayyam Art Center in Dubai, this highly anticipated event will feature over 60 lots of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art and is expected to attract collectors from across the region. Offering painting, sculpture, prints and photography as in previous auctions, this upcoming auction will mark the first time that attendees will be able to bid on exceptional conceptual and installation work, notably by such artists as Huguette Caland and Amal Kenawy.

As the market for Arab and Iranian art from the mid twentieth century to the present continues to attract buyers from the global art world, Ayyam Auctions returns this season with a special emphasis on museum-grade works. With institutions and corporations expanding their holdings of the region’s masterworks in recent years, Ayyam Auctions has gathered a notable selection of nearly a dozen lots by modernist pioneers Louay Kayyali, Nassir Chaura and Fateh Mouddares—works that speak of the region’s significant history of painting.

Complimenting this spotlight will be a wide range of examples by contemporary artists who are longtime favorites of both regional and international museums such as Palestinian painter Samia Halaby, whose work is housed in the collections of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum of Art (New York and Dubai) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Relative newcomers who have become increasingly popular among private and public collections include Iraqi artist Halim Al Karim, whose highly recognizable prints are under the custodianship of the Barjeel Art Foundation, the Farjam Foundation and Saatchi Gallery. Other featured artists such as Iranian painter Khosrow Hassanzadeh, Iraqi multidisciplinary artist Sadik Alfraji and Syrian sculptor Lutfi Romhein, boast similar followings.

Highlights of the Auction:
Among a number of outstanding works, Huguette Caland’s 2010 monumental metal wire installation piece possesses a marked majesty in both presence and imagination. Its enormous form is comprised of intricate weaving with the level of craftsmanship and detail that has established Caland as an innovator in contemporary art and fashion design in both the Middle East and Europe. This striking postmodernist sculpture is not only her largest work to be placed in auction to date, it is arguably her most unusual.

A recent painting by Syrian artist Mohannad Orabi that was created against the backdrop of the recent turmoil that has engulfed the Middle East and North Africa marks a turning point in his widely popular oeuvre. In his latest mixed media on canvas self-portrait a distinct transformation of his child-like avatar is reflected with greater realism in its features, especially in its sparkling eyes that now have a penetrating gaze. This evolution of both Orabi’s subject and his approach demonstrates the astuteness of an artist who, despite reflecting a seemingly carefree response to the world, has actually been deeply immersed in the undercurrents of society on a deeply introspective level.

Several paintings by late Syrian artists Louay Kayyali and Fateh Moudarres—the bulk of which were produced during the 1970s—reveal a precedent for the type of politically charged works that are appearing more frequently in contemporary Arab painting. Committed colleagues of the Damascus art scene during its height of modernism, both artists sought to impact the collective consciousness of the public with compositions that visually outlined the stark reality of the region, as the final stages of independence from foreign powers swept the Gulf region and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reached points of cataclysmic proportions. The seven paintings that are offered by these seminal artists represent an unmatched school of art that resonates as much today as it did when it was first founded.

Palestinian artist Samia Halaby’s “Three Mothers and Three Exotic Birds under an Olive Tree, Women of Palestine Series” (2009) carries equal visual potency with an acrylic on canvas collage that defies conventional methods of painting. The first of her “free abstraction” works to be available at auction, this large composition was executed using a cutout technique in which shapes and forms are generated through the deconstruction of a painted canvas. As the resulting pieces are then allowed to hang freely from the surface, they bear an added layer of dimension, giving the illusion of movement. This sense of an unrestricted composition in which the picture plane is boundless is accentuated with plays on light and color. Although the emphasis is on nonfigurative representation, the silhouettes of three women wearing traditional Palestinian garb have a strong presence.

Iranian artist Khosrow Hassanzadeh, who is known for mixing the political with the personal, is represented by “Fairouz Box” (2010), a mixed media work that pays homage to the visuals of sacred spaces while underscoring the ever-present iconography that can be found in popular culture. Juxtaposing a found photograph of Arab songstress Fairouz with the front grill of an old Mercedes (the model of which are identified with taxi services throughout Lebanon) Hassanzadeh immortalizes her as though she is Lebanese royalty while injecting an element of campiness. Partially inspired by the small boxes that are popular forms of religious imagery and are often reserved for saints and martyrs, despite some strict interpretations on representation in Islam, he elucidates the many combating elements of visual culture that are at odds in the modern day Middle East.

Ayyam Auctions | Middle Eastern art | Huguette Caland | Amal Kenawy |

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