Saudi artists feature in Sotheby’s ‘20th Century Art/Middle East’ auction

1 / 4
British-Iraqi artist Athier Mousawi's 'Mother and Son' is set to go under the hammer. (Photo courtesy: sothebys.com)
2 / 4
Farid Belkahia, Bestiaire, oil and pigments on wood, 1964.
3 / 4
Shakir Hassan Al Said, Orchard of Knowledge, oil on canvas, 1955.
4 / 4
Dia Azzawi, Untitled, oil on canvas, 1978.
Updated 18 April 2018

Saudi artists feature in Sotheby’s ‘20th Century Art/Middle East’ auction

  • Sotheby's is hosting a sale of 20th Century Middle Eastern art in London
  • Works by Saudi artists Maha Malluh and Ahmed Mater will go under the hammer

LONDON: Works by well-known Saudi artists Maha Malluh and Ahmed Mater will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s auction of 20th Century Middle Eastern art in London on April 24.
Arab News spoke to Sotheby’s consultant Mai Eldib to learn more about the much-anticipated sale. Eldib is a huge fan of Malluh and noted that for those who grew up in Saudi Arabia in the 80s and 90s, her work “Food for Thought,” depicting cassette tapes of religious sermons encased in wooden bread-baking trays, will have particular significance.
The minds of this generation were “baked” with these ideas, Eldib observed.
“The work is delivering a message in a very clever way — and the message is very relevant to the social dialogue in the region today,” she added.
Ahmed Mater’s striking “Evolution of Man” — in which a petrol pump “evolves” over five images into an x-ray of a man holding a pistol to his own head — will also be auctioned. The piece is expected to fetch between $8,500 to $10,000.
“This is one of the most recognized images in contemporary Saudi art,” Eldib said. “It is very much a statement piece for any collector.”
Some of the most beautiful and emotionally resonant works in the sale are by the Syrian artist Louay Kayali.
“Kayali is one of the Syrian modern masters. If you are trying to acquire a comprehensive Arab modern collection, you must own a Kayali. He is the father of Syrian modernity and a very important artist,” said Eldib.
The three Kayali works in the sale come from the estate of the late Mrs. Pearl A. Baker, whose 40-year career as a diplomat with the US State Department included posts in Saudi Arabia and Libya. It was during a trip to Syria in 1963-1964 to visit her friends in the Foreign Service that she met Kayali, who at the time was painting portraits for the UN personnel in Damascus.
According to her personal memoirs, Baker commissioned Kayali to paint her own portrait (Lot 59) for just $50. The piece is expected to sell for between $5,700 to $8,500 at the auction. In addition, Baker mentions having bought a painting of the artist’s niece (Lot 58), who was 10 years old at the time, which she proudly hung in her living room in Minneapolis.
Other works up for grabs at Sotheby’s auction include “Minotaur,” by Iranian artist Bahman Mohasses — sometimes called “The Persian Picasso” — whose “Requiem Omnibus” fetched $836,265 at this event last year; Mahmoud Said’s 1937 painting “Adam and Eve” (described by the auction house as “seminal”); and “Bestiare,” by Moroccan modernist Farid Belkahia.


Lebanese concept store Dikkeni gives back through art, fashion

Dikkeni aims to supports the creative industry in Lebanon. (Instagram)
Updated 19 September 2020

Lebanese concept store Dikkeni gives back through art, fashion

DUBAI: Founded in London, online concept store Dikkeni is home to a number of established and up-and-coming Lebanese artists, designers and creative talents who sell their wares through the platform, which in turn ensures all net proceeds made from consumer purchases go directly to artists, brands and local NGOs.

Launched under the Lebanese non-profit organization Impact Lebanon, Dikkeni aims to supports the creative industry in Lebanon.

View this post on Instagram

New on Dikkéni // @alexandrahakim, hand-crafted sustainable and unique jewellery. #straightfromthestudio - Alexandra Hakim’s collections give a new lease of life to found materials and objects which would otherwise go to waste. Inspirations as varied as tomato stems from Beirut’s bustling markets and spent matchsticks found at home are repurposed into striking, contemporary pieces of jewellery. Spearheading sustainability long before it became a trend, each of Alexandra Hakim’s pieces are meticulously made by hand, completely unique and naturally zero-waste. - Photography: @alexandrahakim #dikkeni #sustainable #conscious #sustainablelifestyle #sustainableliving #sustainabledesign #socialenterprise #craftsmanship #lebanon #madeinlebanon #beirut #alexandrahakim #jewellery #handcrafted

A post shared by DIKKÉNI (@dikkeni) on

Launched this summer, co-founder Daniella Chartouni spoke to Arab News about the aims of the website.

“Our primary interest is in supporting the designers and making sure that they can continue to produce. Our secondary interest is offering the relief to Lebanon that it needs” — something that is a key concern after the Aug. 4 explosion that ripped through Beirut.

Dikkeni launched in May after the founders felt the need to support the creative industry in their country.

A lot of designers, small businesses and artists in Lebanon have stopped producing due to inflation, Chartouni explained. “No one is buying in Lebanon so, it’s a very tough situation, and the creative industry is one of Lebanon’s best industries.” 

She also added that the street protests which occurred in Lebanon in 2019 constituted “a big time” for Lebanese artists. “They got very inspired by the change happening in the country. So, it was a great way to launch.”

The online platform recently launched their second collection. They partnered with non-profit organization Lebanon Needs, whose focus is healthcare and providing medication, products which Chartouni believes are very difficult to secure during the current situation.

Dikkeni is currently featuring eight artists and designers, who produce sustainable products in diverse art forms, like jewelry, home decor, photography, fashion and more. 

When speaking to Tina Mouheb, one of the UK-based artists who is currently working with Dikkeni, she said that this project is of great importance to her. 

“Firstly, it is my first ‘public’ art display which allows me – as a humble, uprising, socially conscious artist – to start finding my voice,” the designer and former landscape architect told Arab News. “Another reason is the timing of such initiative in the midst of (the) chaos in Lebanon. The need to help local Lebanese NGOs is imperative.”