Aleppo in the artist’s eyes

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Updated 06 February 2013

Aleppo in the artist’s eyes

Hisham Al-Ayesh the famous Syrian artist has a unique exhibition showcasing 32 paintings that highlight his different artistic techniques at Alamia Gallery, under the patronage of Taha Saban. 
The seven-day exhibition features the artist’s work in a range of creative expressions such as pencil sketches, oil paintings, mosaic work and installations. 
The variety of art genres displays Al-Ayesh’s multi-disciplinary talents and his passion for exploring different styles and projects. Moreover, the diversity in the artist’s subjects provides a glimpse into the artist’s subconscious train of thought. Ranging from sketches of fish, fruits and women, to marvelous wooden artworks embellished with mosaic and oil paintings of horses, offers the visitor a plethora of beautiful and rich pieces to admire. 
Despite the diversity of themes present in Al-Ayesh’s exhibition, Syria was the main and integral protagonist of the artist’s work. Water paintings featuring old Syrian houses stood as artifacts of a calmer age when the country was not ravaged by war. 
“This is the biggest collection of Hisham Al-Ayesh’s art work displayed in one place. His work embodies the mysteries of Syrian traditions and culture and beholds within them elements of nostalgia and belonging to his native country. Al-Ayesh is one of the most prominent Arab artists of our time,” said Nihar Marzok, a famous Saudi artist and head of the Saudi arts association.
Al-Ayesh’s exhibition also features 47 pieces from other Syrian artists that complement his Syrian narrative, and remind visitors of the beautiful landscape and the flavors of old Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world. 
Al-Ayesh was trained by the famous Syrian artist Louay Kayali and Haskial Tours. 
Commenting on the exhibition, he said, “This was my personal exhibition but I invited different artists from Syria, to give the exhibition a more focused and authentic touch of our native homeland. Alongside the Syrian motif, the main theme of my art exhibition is difficult to explain. I have many different subjects in my artwork, but horses are featured quite prominently due to my passion for these creatures and my unique portrayal of them.”
Imagination is central to the artist, however he explained that some of his pieces are inspired by reality and day-to-day incidents. 
Al-Ayesh has been a resident in Saudi Arabia since 1981 and has always been actively involved in the Kingdom’s art scene, even during the burgeoning stages. He has participated in a number of solo exhibitions as well as group exhibitions, such as the ones in Jubail and Yanbu. Moreover, some of his art pieces have been purchased by members of the royal family, including Prince Turkey bin Abdulaziz, Prince Sultan bin Salman, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Princess Haya bint Khaled, and Princess Sitah bint Abdullah.
Some of his collections can be seen at Abdul Raoof Khalil Museum, Jeddah Municipality, and Safeya Binzagr Museum.
Regarding his future plans, the artist revealed that he would like to support young artists and teach his art techniques to the new generation. 
Khalil Nehlawi, the project manager at Alamiah described Al-Ayesh’s style of art as “Very unique”, adding that “Saudi and Syrian art share a similar spirit and heritage, however style varies from one artist to the other.”
Meanwhile, Ghazi Al-Khaildi, member of the united committee of artists in the European Union also said that Al-Ayesh’s work has evolved immensely since 1983. He also highlighted how Al-Ayesh’s paintings of horses were different from other artists and provided a unique point of reference in the modern Arab art scene. 
The exhibition was inaugurated by Saban who expressed his appreciated of Al-Ayesh’s efforts and great artistic talent
“This is a beautiful exhibition and brings back memories of my visit to Syria. I have a great passion for art, as it is an expression of culture and a universal language for people of the work. I was a cultural attaché to Damascus back in the 90’s and worked with many Syrian artists, so it’s a great pleasure to see their work displayed here,” said Anne Casper, the American consul general. 

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History goes under the hammer as London celebrates Islamic art

Updated 27 April 2018

History goes under the hammer as London celebrates Islamic art

  • Leading auction houses this week embarked on an 1,800-year artistic odyssey with treasures from across the region
  • A painting by the late Egyptian painter Mahmoud Said fetched the highest bid £633,000

LONDON: For aficionados of Middle Eastern art, London was the place to be this week. During the biannual Islamic Art Week, the big auction houses held sales of everything from antiquities to modern-art installations, with many works receiving well above their estimates.

Sotheby’s 20th Century Art/Middle East on Tuesday featured two Saudi artists, Ahmed Mater and Maha Malluh, alongside works by  Morocco’s Farid Belkahia, Lebanon’s Paul Guiragossian, Iraq’s Shakir Hassan Al-Said and Syria’s Louai Kayali. A painting by the late Egyptian painter Mahmoud Said, often a record-setter at auctions of Arab art, fetched the highest bid: “Adam and Eve,” at £633,000 (it was estimated at £300,00-£500,000). 

The same day, Sotheby’s held the seventh season of its Orientalist Sale, with Edwin Lord Weeks’ painting “Rabat (The Red Gate)” drawing the highest bid at £573,000, above its estimate of £200,000-£300,000.

At Bonham’s, a pair of gold pendant earrings from the collection of Maharani Jindan Kaur, the mother of the last Sikh ruler of the Punjab, sold for £175,000, eight times the original estimate. 

At Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World auction on Wednesday, an Iznik pottery flask raised the highest price, £669,000, well above the estimated £60,000-£80,000.

The Christie’s auction on Thursday featured Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds, including Oriental rugs and carpets. A rare palimpsest of a Qur’an written over an earlier Coptic text, thought to be from Egypt and to date back to the second century, was bought for £596,750.