Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai

BY HARPER'S BAZAAR ARABIA / Nov 17 2015 / 22:14 PM

Set to take place on December 2 in London, the auction represents a growing number of artists from the Middle East region

Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Amina Debbiche and Rayan Lazaar
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Ashkan Baghestani and John Burns
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Dina Nasser Khadivi
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Elif Bayoglu Erdem and Mai Eldib
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Katia and David Hodson
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Kinza Benali, Lana Farouki and Sherine Bouez
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Mohammed Al Baker and Meryem Aykal
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Simo Novakovic, Aurela Cuku, Elisabeta Allko and Donald Cuku
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Yana Mann and Natali Budzei
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai
Sotheby’s Previews Its Second 20th Century Art Auction In Dubai

Returning for the second year at Sotheby’s in London, the 20th Century Art sale this year will see a sweeping number of modern art pieces from Arab, Iranian and Turkish abstract artists auctioned off in early December.  While the artists are considered pioneers in their respective countries, they are gaining recognition by art enthusiasts globally. “Collectors are showing an increasing interest in artists who were on the fringes of the international art scene but are now receiving acclaim for their artistic achievements,” says Tessa Kostrzewa, Sotheby’s head of auction sales. And what recognition it is - Sotheby’s, headquartered in New York City, is unrivaled as a top international collector of contemporary, impressionist and modern art,

Abstract art is a common theme in Islamic art. The abstract movement began in the 1950s with numerous Egyptian artists, such as Fouad Kamal and Ramsis Younan, and continued into the following decades with indigenous visual arts claiming a “return to the roots.” In the latter half of the 20th century, modern art related to artistic styles found in Arabic calligraphy and the rich cultural or spiritual traditions found throughout the Arab world. Calligraphy was one local element with which artists could create contemporary art; others include Sufism or local materials and crafts. Still, abstraction was an aesthetic quality that allowed these artists to forge a contemporary voice and authenticity. The development of modern and specifically abstract art has a history of its own and is one that continues to come into sight.

Some of the highlighted artists in the Sotheby’s auction include Fahrelnissa Zeid from Turkey whose abstract work is influenced by a bold use of colour and a Cubist style approach. Zeid’s work is best described as geometric calligraphy. She was an expressionist artist who blended Byzantine and Islamic elements to create avant-garde mosaics of bright, drastic hues sometimes scraped or scribbled on with knife or spatula.  Iran’s Bahman Mohassess was an internationally acclaimed modern artist and poet. A categorically mysterious abstract painter, Mohassess was a troubled artist who rejected his national visual heritage. His oeuvre today is limited as he destroyed a large number of his own paintings. Finally, Mahmoud Mokhtar of Egypt was an abstract sculptor whose contemporary pieces mixed Ancient Egypt sculptures with Parisian Art Deco characteristic. The result is a rare visual agenda of political independence and Egypt’s emancipation of women in the 20th century.

The art house held a preview of the soon-to-be auctioned pieces here in Dubai this week for some of the region's top art aficionados. See the images from the elegant evening in the gallery. — Iliana Foutsitzis