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.


Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

'Plates numbers Sharjah to Abu Dhabi' by Ebtisam Abdulaziz. (Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2019

Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

  • Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition
  • The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018

DUBAI: Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition — organized by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development — on Nov. 21.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist.

“Unfortunately, when I finished high school, I couldn’t get the chance to study art since there were no art colleges in the UAE. I decided to get a degree in mathematics because it is an interesting subject to me, as I believe art and maths are connected with each other,” the artist, whose work was exhibited as part of the UAE Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, said.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist. Supplied

In 1999, she kicked off a career in the arts and hasn’t looked back since. The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper, all of which explore “human nature, culture, religion… and the workings of the human brain,” according to the artist.

“There is a connection between art and maths,” she added, explaining the link between her two passions. “I merged the two parts of my brain to get ideas and (build on this) mixture between art and maths.”

 The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018 and Abdulaziz is particularly excited about her new piece.

The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper. Supplied

“My piece for Al-Burda is a dream come true. I had this idea of making a huge installation work that involves maths, geometry and Islamic patterns. The idea… started from just a sketch… to a big acrylic painting on canvas and now it has become a 3-D work.”

The optical illusion-style work is almost trippy to look at due to its accordion-style surface and multitude of bright, block-printed colors and that boldness is also visible in her advice to budding Emirati artists.

“My advice to them is to go for it, think big, go crazy with your art. It is who you are, it is your way to express yourself,” she said.