Unseen work by 'Persian Picasso' Bahman Mohasses to go on sale at auction

The next 20th Century Art / Middle East auction to be held by Sotheby's will open for bidding this month

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More than 100 works of Middle Eastern art will go on sale as part of the next 20th Century Art / Middle East online auction, to be held by Sotheby's. It includes pioneering artists such as Mahmoud Mokhtar, Mohamed Melehi, Huguette Caland and Bahman Mohasses.

Top lots include Egyptian artist Mokhtar's bronze work Au bord du Nil, which depicts a water bearer and echoes elements from Art Deco and ancient Egyptian sculpture. The work refers to the fight for women's independence in Egypt and is estimated at £150,000-£200,000 ($195,000-$260,000).

There is also a previously unseen painting by Mohasses, considered one of Iran's cultural greats, and whose style shares elements with Pablo Picasso's abstract works. Titled Personaggio I, the 1968 piece was formerly in the collection of former US vice president Nelson Rockefeller and is estimated at £70,000-£90,000.

A vibrant, shimmering work on paper by renowned Iranian artist Faramarz Pilaram, one of the founders of the Saqqakhaneh movement that brought together modern art and Persian calligraphy, is expected to go for £60,000-£80,000. Made with metallic paint, the patchwork-like piece bears geometric designs and symbols.

Within the same price range is a rare cellulose painting by Melehi, containing his recognisable wave motif rendered in bold red, green and blue colours. The Moroccan artist recently set a new auction record in March, when his 1963 work The Blacks sold for £399,000, more than seven times its estimate.

Another lot expected to perform well is Ismail Shammout's Crucifixion from 1972, an emotive depiction of sacrifice through the perspective of Palestinian history.

Works by Emirati artists Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, recently selected to represent the UAE at the Venice Biennale 2020, and Shaikha Al Mazrou are also included in the sale. Ibrahim's papier-mache sculpture Bouquet from 2018 is estimated at £6,000-£8,000, while Al Mazrou's playful steel sculpture is expected to go for £7,000-£9,000.

Al Mazrou joins other female artists in the line-up, including the late Huguette Caland, Monir Farmanfarmaian, Shirin Neshat and Inji Aflatoun.

The auction also includes 13 works from the private collection of Sheila and Eric Azari that encapsulates Modern Iranian art from the 1960s, including pieces by those part of the Saqqakaneh movement, such as Sohrab Sepehri and Massoud Arabshahi. New to auction are the artists Hassan Ghaemi and Fereydoun Rahimi-Assa, whose works are also part of the Azari collection.

The bidding will be open for a week, from October 20 to 27, and the works will be part of a public exhibition in London on Saturday and Sunday, October 24 and 25.