Christie’s Middle Eastern Modern and Contemporary Art

After Christie’s success with the sale of Middle Eastern Modern and Contemporary Art last October, the auction house is organising the second edition on October 24, 2018, with a free public exhibition from October 20 in London.

On offer will be the works of leading artists representing Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Syria.

The highlight of this year’s sale is An Ear of Mud, an Ear of Paste (1951) by Egyptian master Abdel Hadi El Gazzar (1925-1966), with an estimated value that ranges between £350,000 to 450,000. The artist will be the subject of a catalogue raisonné due to be published later in 2019 by Valérie Didier Hess and Dr Hussam Rashwan, the scholars behind the 2017 publication of the first ever catalogue raisonné of any Middle Eastern artist, Mahmoud Saïd.

Glass Number 3 is a mosaic and mirror work by the Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian (born 1924) and is estimated at between £120,000 and 150,000. It features a regular diamond pattern of the mirrored surface secured with plaster on board and reflects the artist’s intense passion for her Iranian heritage as well as the influence of the great young American artists including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Joan Mitchell with whom she mixed in New York during the heyday of Studio 54.

The Wall and the Scripts executed by Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli (born 1937) is an important edition of the five known casts from the much-celebrated Wall series. Completed in 2007, and estimated at between £120,000 and 180,000, the metre-high bronze sculpture is richly embellished with calligraphy.

America, painted in 1970 by Egyptian Hamed Ewais (1919-2011), has an estimated value between £70,000 and 100,000. Often referred to as ‘tableaux vivants,’ Ewais’s works depict a wide range of Egyptian characters set against a backdrop that reference political events or social realities in Egypt at the time. America provides a visually scathing commentary on the diplomatic stalemate between Egypt and its allies against Israel from 1967 to 1970.

Iranian artist Mohammed Ehsai (born 1939) is represented by an untitled work painted in 1975 from his Allah series. It is expected to sell for between £60,000 and 80,000. The painting contrasts a stark white background with the vivid green of the calligraphy while incorporating traditional Persian script with contemporary techniques; a seamless transition between ancient and the modern.

The Tree series is amongst the most sought-after works by Iranian artist Sohrab Sepehri (1929-1980). The series is represented by an untitled painting referred to as Tree Trunk, estimated to sell between £60,000 and 80,000. The painting explores the delicate intersection between nature and the divine with a distinctive painterly language that is a mélange of the minimalism of Japan, Buddhism and Western modernity.

The internationally acclaimed Syrian artist Marwan (1964-2016) is represented by a 1977 untitled Still Life that is expected to sell for between £30,000-40,000. Marwan, known for his stylistic, post-Surrealist approaches to portraiture and still life, overlays paint to highlight distinct features with heavy brush strokes which draw these objects out. He became the first Arab member of the distinguished Akademie der Künste of Germany.

My City #6, from 2011 by Lebanese artist Zena Assi (born 1974), is offered without reserve with an estimate between £2,000 and 4,000. Painted using collage, acrylic and ink on canvas, the work recreates the vibrant scene of Zena’s hometown of Beirut.