Middle Eastern Artists Set to Shine at Art Auction

Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (Iran, born 1937)Seconds-Behtarin-Seconds. Image courtesy of Bonhams Auctions

Charles Hossein Zenderoudi,  Seconds-Behtarin-Seconds, one of the works by the Middle Eastern artists to be offered at the auction. Image courtesy of Bonhams Auctions

ART AUCTION: Artworks by Middle Eastern artists will go on sale at Bonhams in London as part of the auction houses strategy of broadening the market 


LONDON— In the last five years, the Middle East has been top news around the globe. From the Arab spring to war in Syria and ISIS in Iraqi, it has been one crisis after another. So deeply entrenched are the news of Middle East crisis that many have forgotten that the Middle East is filled with countries with great history and culture. The Middle East also has a lot of great artists whose works have been exhibited in museums across the globe. Works by some of these artists will be the center of attention in an art auction to be held in London.

On October 7, Bonhams will shift the focus from the crisis in the Middle East to art by presenting the works of famous Middle Eastern artists in an art auction that is already generating a lot of excitement among art collectors. Bonhams Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art sale features a variety of masterpieces from across the Middle Eastern region. This is the second sale of masterpieces by Middle Eastern artists this year at Bonhams. The first was in April. The successful art sale saw 86% of lots sold by value and featured buyers from over 12 different countries. The new art sale helps the auction house build on the April success as well as continue its strategy of broadening the market by presenting a carefully curated selection of works from the regions standout artists to a growing international audience.

Highlighting the October sale are two extraordinary works from Iran’s most celebrated modern artists, Sohrab Sepehri and Bahman Mohasses. The works which are from the collection of Dr. Ehsan Yarshater, (Hagop Kevorkian Professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at Columbia University) are sold to benefit one of the most ambitious academic projects undertaken in the field of Middle Eastern studies this century, Encyclopaedia Iranica. Dr. Yarshater, one the most lauded scholars of Iranian studies, hope the sale of the works will help with the preservation of Iranian cultural history.

Hanging Clothes by Sepehris allows an insight into life in his native Kashan. Estimated at 55,000-100,000 GBP, Hanging Clothes is a quintessential statement of the artist’s two great impulses: a strong love for the vernacular of his native Kashan and the more opaque abstraction inherited from the Eastern painting traditions he was so fluently versed in.

Mohasses’ Apparition is another work expected to bring record auction price at the art sale. An incredibly rare example of the artist expressing his artistic freedom with fluid and unrestrained creativity, the work is an early example of the artist’s abstract work. It displays Mohasses’ expression of independence from any artistic constraints.

One of the major highlights of Bonhams April sale of Middle Eastern art was Nalini by Jawad Selim. Estimated at the low estimate of £50,000, the work sold for £170,000. For OctoberBonhams auction house will unveil another piece by Selim. Titled Salome, the work was executed when Selim was in his late teens. Salome is a rare example from a period of Selim’s life from which very few works survive.  Handled with a sensitive touch, Selim renders the famed Biblical temptress with remarkable subtlety. Salome represents the extraordinary artistic vision that Selim had honed at such a young age.

Some other interesting pieces in the art auction sale includes Charles Hossein Zenderoudi’s Seconds-Behtarin-Seconds, a 1978 work estimated at £80,000-120,000, Louay Kayyali’s emblematic Seated Man at £40,000-60,000, and Adam Henein’s Fatma, the first sculpture the artist executed shortly after graduating from Cairo’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1953, also rank amongst the standout works from the sale.

Farhad Moshiri’s Rafti..Vali Na Az Del (You Left, But Not From My Heart) is one of the highlights within the contemporary segment of the art sale. Estimated at £40,000-60,000, Rafti..Vali Na Az Del is one of the only works from the jar series executed in bi-form and serves as an example which can truly be considered the apotheosis of Moshiri’s oeuvre. Alongside Moshiri’s Rafti..Vali Na Az Del is Ayman Baalbaki’s L’Armonial. The largest work by the artist to be offered at auction, L’Armonial is a monumental testament to the reconstruction of war-torn Beirut that Baalbaki so keenly documents.

Curated by Bonhams Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art specialist,  Nima Sagharchi, the sale exemplifies Bonhams unflinching commitment to expand the art market. Sagharchi notes that presenting the works of the Middle Eastern artists in an art auction gives the auction house great pride:

It is a point of considerable pride that Bonhams has been able to bring together a group of works that are arguably the finest extant examples from the artists represented; many of the works such as Jewad Selim’s Salome or Farhad Moshiri’s “RaftiVali Na Az Del”, are not only noteworthy for their uniqueness and quality, but standout as milestone works within the respective artists body of work.

Speaking on Bonhams strategy in this specialist collecting areas, Sagharchi states: “It is a demonstration not only of our ongoing commitment to the category but our belief in the health and expansion of Middle Eastern art market which has spurred us to present such a distinguished offering for auction.”

As a prelude to the art sale, some of the works by the Middle Eastern artists will be on display in an art exhibition on March 15, 2014, at the JAMM Gallery, owned by H.H Sheikha Lulu Al Sabah.

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Jewad Selim (Iraq,1919-1961) Salome(2). Image courtesy of Bonhams Auctions

Sohrab Sepehri (Iran, 1928-1980) ‘The Hanging Clothes’. Image courtesy of Bonhams Auctions

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