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Magnificent Abraaj Art Collection to be offered at Bonhams London
Akbar Padamsee (India, B. 1928), Untitled (Metascape). Signed 'PADAMSEE' and dated '83 upper left. Oil on canvas, 122 x 183cm. Estimate: £150,000-250,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- The international auction house Bonhams is to sell the art collection of the Abraaj Group, the private equity company.

The Abraaj Collection, assembled mainly in the early 2000s, is famous for its depth and quality, and combines Arab, Iranian, and South Asian art with traditional Islamic and Indian art. Many of the pieces have appeared in retrospective exhibitions, and in monographs and publications.

Bonhams Director of Middle Eastern, Islamic and South Asian Art, Nima Sagharchi said: “The Abraaj Collection is widely respected for its depth and scope and it is an honour to be entrusted with bringing it to market. All works carrying a low estimate of £50,000 or under are being sold without reserve, and I am hoping that this imaginative approach will encourage many more collectors to enjoy these wonderful pieces.”

The 200-piece strong collection will feature in the following sales at Bonhams in London during October, and in an online auction in November.

Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art and Art of Pakistan Sale on Wednesday 24 October.

Highlights include:

Untitled (Metascape) by Akbar Padamsee (India, b. 1928). Estimate: £150,000-250,000. Padamsee began painting his metascapes in the 1970s. This work is a prime example of Padamsee's aptitude as a colourist and his deep understanding of the emotive impact of colours.

Untitled by Manjit Bawa (India, 1941-2008). Estimate: £180,000-250,000. Manjit Bawa’s works are devoid of landscapes or other superfluous details recalling the style of Rajput and Pahari miniature painting. The coexistence of man and animals is a recurring depiction in his paintings, here exemplified by a seated woman in traditional Punjabi clothing surrounded by dogs.

Beej by Syed Haider Raza (India, 1922-2016). Estimate: £120,000-150,000. Raza was a founding member of the Progressive Artists Group formed in Bombay. One of the most seminal works from Raza's Bindu series, Beej incorporates all the geometric and aesthetic elements that defined his marked shift from expressionistic landscape to geometric abstraction.

Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art Sale on Wednesday 24 October.

Among the highlights are:

He is Merciful by Mohammad Ehsai (Iran, born 1939). Estimate: £50,000-100,000. One of the most gifted calligraphers to emerge from Iran within the past century, Ehsai is devoted to the perfection of his craft, and has married the technical finesse of his formal training within a modern visual schema.

Poet and the Bird by Parviz Tanavoli (Iran, born 1937). Estimate: £50,000-100,000. This unique and monumental bronze sculpture makes extensive use of the common literary metaphors of traditional Persian poetry, and takes its inspiration from the religious imagery of the Iranian urban landscape.

Celebrations by Paul Guiragossian (Lebanon, 1926-1993). Estimate: £40,000-60,000. The work was executed in 1990 towards the end of the Lebanese Civil War which had started in 1975. In the artist’s own words, “"Some were not able to produce any art during the war, but I was painting without stop. My war was my painting, my revenge was my colours, and my biggest revenge was always love, beauty and nature even in the darkest of times."

Indian and Islamic Art on Tuesday 23 October.

Highlights include:

An illustration from the Sunder Shringar: Radha and Krishna lying on a bed within a pavilion, circa 1780. Estimate: £50,000-80,000. The Sunder Shringar, composed in the mid-17th Century by Sunder Kavi (d. 1689), is a poem dealing with the various moods of love.

An illustration from a Markendeya Purana series: Jaimini questioning the sage Markandeya Mahamuni at a hermitage circa 1770-80. Estimate: £20,000-30,000. One of the key features of the Markandeya Purana is the use of story-telling, or intellectual enquiry, as a framing device for the main narrative.

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