Hala Khayat, head of sales at Christie’s Dubai, rounds up some of the top works from private collections, by leading Middle Eastern artists.
Lot 2: Hamed Ewais, Al Aabour (The Crossing of the Suez Canal), 1974
An outstanding, emblematic work, characterised by its powerful composition and blinding colours, impregnated with statements of nationalist fervour and support for the Egyptian working class.
Lot 3: Mahmoud Saïd, Le Nil à El Derr, Nubie (The Nile in El Derr, Nubia), 1933
This is the Egyptian artist's earliest large-scale view of the Nile. Le Nil à El Derr stands out from Mahmoud Saïd's oeuvre as one of the most beautiful river scenes he painted, characterised by the warm light emanating from its complex colour scheme and by the lyricism of its simplified composition.
Lot 5: Omar El-Nagdi, Sarajevo, 1992
The top lot, this piece is estimated at between US$400,000 and $600,000 (up to Dh2.2 million) and is described in the catalogue as a museum masterpiece. The Sarajevo triptych is the most important and the most ambitious work produced by El-Nagdi and is, without doubt, one of the most poignant depictions of the horrors of war ever painted by an Arab artist.
Lot 6: Fateh Moudarres, Untitled, early 1980s
A seminal work that shows the artist’s mastery and craft. One of the few rare works of this size and scale, it exemplifies Moudarres’s ability to delve into thousands of years of civilisation to rewrite a new chapter of history while creating a modern visual language.
Lot 8: Louay Kayyali, Hamel Al Shibbak Al Saghir (The Young Net Carrier), 1965
Kayyali’s art offered a new way of observing the harsh reality of the working class. Here, he depicts his subject with an angelic face and oversized and dark hollowed eyes, stressing his hypnotic gaze and capturing the viewer’s attention.
Lot 11: Shafic Abboud, Café Hajj Daoud, Café Al Bahrein, Café Palestine, Café de Verre (from Les Cafés Engloutis series), 1990
An extraordinary creation comprising 130 individually painted tempera on panels. They refer to the vanishing cafe culture that had been widely popular in the Arab world and more particularly in Ras Beirut, an area west of downtown Beirut, in the 1950s and 1960s. They provide a rare insight into the artist’s personality and oeuvre.
Lot 24: Parviz Tanavoli, Poet and Cage, 1966
Acclaimed for his sculptures, mainly in bronze, Parviz Tanavoli developed a passion for ceramic works at a young age, but only practised the art for short periods. This ceramic piece is, therefore, rare and significant because it recalls his fascination with the poet, a recurring figure in his work.
Lot 34: Azade Köker, Jerusalem, 2015
Turkish artist Azade Köker produced this image by layering thousands of images of Jerusalem on to one work to create a collage of the city. Although it is neatly composed, the artist is pointing to the fact that the city is full of divisions. Every district is confined in itself, and to survive people have to develop skills of self-defence.
Lot 35: Monir Farmanfarmaian, The Sun Maiden, 1974
One of the pieces exhibited in Farmanfarmaian’s first solo exhibition outside of Iran, in New York’s Jacques Kaplan gallery in 1975. Farmanfarmaian is fascinated by Sufi cosmology and the symbolism in geometry, and the piece summarises her interest as well as holding significant historical value.
Lot 36: Farhad Moshiri, Conference, 2008
Faceless men sit at a conference table, their visages covered with trademark Moshiri sparkling gems. Perhaps hinting at the emotionless actions often taken by large-scale consumerist enterprises, Moshiri addresses these issues with bold conviction. Notorious for crafting the unexpected, he absorbs the creative formula of the cool and kitsch to orchestrate masterful collaborations between high art and popular culture.