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.


Chinese pianist Lang Lang set to regale music lovers at Tantora

Updated 18 January 2019
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Chinese pianist Lang Lang set to regale music lovers at Tantora

  • Lang will perform alongside the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra at the Al-Ula-based festival
  • The Winter at Tantora festival has proven wildly successful with audiences so far

RIYADH: Award-winning Chinese pianist Lang Lang delighted fans on Wednesday with a short video teaser to promote his upcoming performance at the Winter at Tantora festival. 

The musician posted the video online, in which he was seen opening a book to reveal the words “stay tuned.” 

Winter at Tantora’s Twitter account added to the hype, tweeting to their followers that the concert would “refresh their senses.”

Lang will perform alongside the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra at the Al-Ula-based festival.

He is famous for his compelling style and talent, as well as his range as a pianist. Claimed that music is his “first language,” he believes that through it he is able to communicate with audiences all over the globe, despite language barriers. 

Throughout his career, he has performed classical pieces, including Chopin and Liszt, but also more contemporary work, including songs from The Little Mermaid.

The sold-out concert, called Monumental, is scheduled for Friday Jan. 18, and will be Lang’s and the Guangzhou Orchestra’s first performances in Saudi Arabia.

Fans took to Twitter to express their excitement. “I can’t wait to see you!” Tweeted one. “It’s a pleasure and an honor to have you in Saudi Arabia!”

The Winter at Tantora festival has proven wildly successful with audiences so far, with names such as Mohammed Abdo, Majida Al-Roumi, and a holographic depiction of legendary songstress Umm Kulthoum all appearing to positive acclaim.

The limited seating per concert, capped at 500 apiece, has been popular, with most concerts selling out in record-breaking time. With different packages available to purchase for the festival, ranging from affordable seats to high-end luxury experiences, the chance to spend a weekend in Al-Ula has also been made available to a wide pool of people, despite the small numbers on offer.