History goes under the hammer as London celebrates Islamic art

Updated 27 April 2018
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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.


Yara Shahidi honored with Spotlight Award

Yara Shahidi was honored with an award at the 25th Annual Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2018
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Yara Shahidi honored with Spotlight Award

DUBAI: Actress and social activist Yara Shahidi was honored with an award at the 25th Annual Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration on Monday and took to the stage to give a speech.

The Iranian-American star of TV show “Black-ish,” who has her own spinoff show called “Grown-ish,” was given the Calvin Klein Spotlight Award at an event attended by the likes of Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez and many more.

The 18-year-old Harvard University student is one of a star-studded list of honorees, including Lady Gaga, Shonda Rhimes and Mia Farrow.

The event also celebrated the female cast of “Black Panther” — Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o — at the event in Los Angeles’ Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Shahidi sat down with the magazine for an in-depth interview published in its November 2018 issue. The teen, who hails from a highly accomplished family — one of her cousins is the rapper Nas, while another, Anousheh Ansari, was the first Iranian-American astronaut — covered everything from women in Hollywood to her political activism.

“We’re holding people accountable for their actions. There’s an intentional knowledge disparity in any industry, which is tied to the maintaining of power. I love the fact that this community of women is disintegrating that. I’ve been able to reap the benefits of it, and I’m also fortunate to have my parents with me, guiding me,” she told the magazine.

Shahidi has talked openly about her family in the past, including in a revealing social media post about her parents during the uproar about the proposed US immigration ban in 2017.

“If my baba was stuck in an airport because of a Muslim ban 39 years ago, he would have never fallen in love with my mama. I would not exist and I wouldn’t have two amazing brothers,” she posted on social media at the time.

The actress has been vocal about her Iranian-African-American heritage and even called herself “a proud Black Iranian” on Twitter.

In her most recent interview with Elle magazine, the actress expands on what causes are close to her heart.

“Immigration, gun control. There’s been a lack of humanity, especially in the policies of these past two years, policies that alienate minorities,” she said.

Lady Gaga was also awarded at the ceremony, and took to the stage to give a powerful, emotional speech about being a survivor of sexual assault.

“As a sexual assault survivor by someone in the entertainment industry, as a woman who is still not brave enough to say his name, as a woman who lives with chronic pain, as a woman who was conditioned at a very young age to listen to what men told me to do, I decided today I wanted to take the power back. Today I wear the pants,” she said at the event.