Welcome to Miami: Mideast artists head to Art Basel

'Untitled (Food For Thought series)' by Maha Malluh. (AFP)
Updated 26 November 2018

Welcome to Miami: Mideast artists head to Art Basel

  • The 17th edition Art Basel Miami Beach is set to run from Dec. 6-9
  • It will feature a startling sampling of art from the Middle East

DUBAI: The 17th edition Art Basel Miami Beach is set to run from Dec. 6-9 and will feature a startling sampling of art from the Middle East.

According to organizers, this year’s edition will see 268 galleries and 29 new entrants from 35 countries across North and Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East take part.

The main section of the fair, which is considered one of the key art events on the international calendar, will focus on art from Latin America, with certain galleries paying tribute to the Middle East.

Beirut-based Sfeir-Semler Gallery is gearing up to showcase mixed media works by Lebanese artists Etel Adnan, Walid Raad and Rayyane Tabet, according to Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. The gallery will also show off work by Egyptian artist Wael Shawky and Moroccan creative talent Yto Barrada.
 

Meanwhile, the art fair’s Nova section will present new works from around the world, including a video installation by Iraqi artist Hiwa K, set to be showcased by Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani. Tunis’s Selma Feriani Gallery will present a series of works by Saudi artist Maha Malluh. The contemporary Saudi artist focuses her work on the impact of globalization and consumer culture in the Kingdom. Her sculptures often include bric-a-brac collected from junk shops and flea markets and she has been known to work with cassette tapes, dog-eared dishes and long-discarded cooking pots. A creation entitled “Al-Muallaqat” was one of the first pieces to be showcased in the contemporary section of the Louvre Abu Dhabi — an eyebrow-raising sculpture consisting of a set of hefty, black-bottomed pots hung on a white wall.
 

Another popular artist whose early work will be showcased at the fair — in the Survey section — is Monir Farmanfarmaian, who is known for her mirrored mosaics. At 94 years old, the Iranian artist has had her work featured in several of the world’s leading museums, including Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Guggenheim in New York and London’s Tate Modern.

It’s an event that attracts the who’s who of the art industry — an ideal platform to show off Middle Eastern creativity on the world stage.

 


Highlights from Sotheby’s 20th Century Art sale in London

Sotheby’s will take place October 22 in London. (Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2019

Highlights from Sotheby’s 20th Century Art sale in London

Here are some highlights from Sotheby’s 20th Century Art/Middle East sale, which takes place October 22 in London. 

‘After The Rain’

Mahmoud Said

The famous auction house is billing this 1936 painting as “the most impressive example of Said’s landscapes ever to appear at auction” and predict it will fetch between $375,000 and $500,000.

Said is widely recognized as one of the most important figures in modern Egyptian art. His work combined elements of European art movements — from the Old Masters to post-impressionism — but retained a definite Egyptian feel, “capturing the Egyptian spirit during a time of intellectual renaissance.”

“After The Rain” was created during Said’s “Armana period,” and portrays an Egyptian countryside village — the backdrop to all of his paintings from this period — and another of his recurring motifs, a ripened palm tree. Sotheby’s particularly praises Said’s skill at “capturing the complexities of light to illustrate the depth of a sky as it is after rain — heavy clouds looming, yet with the hope of light and promise of sun,” and they way he uses the color of the sky to allude to the Nile — “his emblematic cobalt blue peppered with hints of turquoise and deeper, darker shades.”

‘Dodechahedron within an Icosahedron’

Dana Awartani

Sotheby’s expects this 2016 piece from the Palestinian-Saudi Jeddah-based artist to fetch around $25,000 at the auction. The wood, copper and glass sculpture — which Awartani created with craftsmen in Morocco — is an excellent example of how her works “gently fuse the lineage of Islamic craftsmanship, its motifs and tessellations with contemporary practice” and, the auction house says, “encapsulates her contemporary approach to the age-old spiritual appreciation of geometry … marrying the precarious with the perfect.”

‘Stardust’

Ali Banisadr

 

The hugely successful 43-year-old New York-based artist’s 2011 canvas is a typically striking display of Banisadr’s acclaimed technique. His work, Sotheby’s says “weaves together historical contexts — Islamic worlds meld with Medieval Europe with ease, and the gestural power of abstract impressionism is fused with battlegrounds from Persian miniatures.”

The auction house describes “Stardust” as “one of the most joyous works by the artist ever to appear at auction, the effervescent colors enveloping the viewer with a cosmic sense of harmony and serenity.” It is expected to fetch between $350,000 to $450,000.

‘Untitled’

Seta Manoukian

Manoukian’s 1987 oil painting is part of the auction’s ‘Armenian Diaspora’ section, which “takes a look at the unique and multifaceted Armenian artistic heritage.”

“Through exile and war, many artists preserved their culture, history and language,” the auction brochure reads.

Manoukian spent much of the Lebanese Civil War in Beirut before moving to Los Angeles, where she now lives as a Buddhist nun. This work, which Sotheby’s expects to fetch between $12,000 to $15,000, is a self-portrait created soon after her move to Hollywood and depicts the loneliness and confusion she was feeling at the time. One of the artworks on the wall in the painting is a small watercolor painted by fellow Armenian diaspora artist Aroutyun Vartanian in 1950.

‘The Stamp’

Abdulnasser Gharem

The Saudi army major and artist first conceived this large sculpture when his promotion led to him spend much of his time behind a desk stamping papers. On his website, Gharem explains that he was interested in how these stamps — “no matter how complex the logic that informed the thinking behind his decisions” — reduced everything to “a single stab, a binary ‘stamp’ or ‘no stamp.’”

He realized that, all across the Kingdom, every day, officials are slamming thousands of stamps down onto sheets of unrelated papers. “They articulate an unconscious and collective imprimatur, pronouncing what is right, what is acceptable, and which is the right path.”

The text on Gharem’s oversized stamp is short and to the point. “Have a bit of commitment,” it reads. Then, “Inshallah.” It is expected to fetch between $19,000 and $25,000 at auction.

‘Untitled’

Bahman Mohasses

The late painter and poet — sometimes referred to as ‘The Picasso of Iran’ — was known for the emotional power of his painting. His work in the 1960s, in particular, is disturbing and striking, offering, Sotheby’s says, a “host of dark, mythological characters used to express the anguish and despair of the huan condition.”

This oil painting from 1966 — expected to fetch between $150,000 and $225,000 — “encapsulates the artist’s unique ability to capture strength and vulnerability in the space of one canvas.”

‘Rhythmic Composition’

Saloua Raouda Choucair

The pioneering Lebanese abstract artist, who lived to the age of 100, was in her nineties before her work got any real exposure outside of Lebanon — becoming the first female Arab artist to have a solo show at London’s Tate Modern in 2013.

Choucair’s time in Paris just after the Second World War, absorbing the European avant-garde, informed much of her work. “Her aesthetic is shaped by, but not restricted to, Islamic geometry and calligraphy, colored with the daring palettes of her Parisian contemporaries and infused with the soft landscapes of Lebanon,” Sotheby’s explains. This 1949 work, estimated to be worth around $38,000 to $50,000, is the first of Choucair’s paintings to be available at auction.