x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Christie's artful auction gets under way in Dubai

Take a look at our top five picks from Christie's latest two-part sale taking place today and tomorrow in Dubai.

Microbigs: Berlusconi, Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama and Kim Jong-il by Ansen.
Microbigs: Berlusconi, Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama and Kim Jong-il by Ansen.

The slam of the gavel, the applause at the big sale, the airy silence at the unsold: auctions for contemporary art are remarkably exciting places to be, even for the newcomer. Take a look at our top five picks from Christie's latest two-part sale taking place today and tomorrow at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Godolphin Ballroom, starting at 7pm both nights.

An Afternoon Tea

• Artist: Ghazaleh Avarzamani (from the Utopia series)

• Estimate: Dh7,300-11,000

• Auction time: Tomorrow

Christie's moved its Dubai auctions into a two-part format in October, bringing the Middle East in line with the rest of its operations internationally. The part-two sale tomorrow features, in a bid to attract new collectors, a number of slightly more affordable pieces by younger artists. This is one such piece by the Iranian artist Avarzamani.

The artist has embroidered an 18th-century picnic on the lawn: men in tights and resplendent white wigs cavort among the gowned ladies of high society (sporting characteristic beauty spots). Yet amid this scene of European period pomp, two equally stereotypical Tehrani girls wander around in leopard-skin hijab and massive sunglasses. It is a coyly satirical piece, well executed.

The Virgin

• Artist: Saeed Khalifa

• Estimate: Dh19,000-25,000

• Auction time: Tomorrow

Khalifa can occasionally get a bit carried away on Photoshop when creating his images, but this triptych by the Emirati artist certainly catches the eye. With a provocative title, and an air of the fantastical, Khalifa's model appears engulfed in fabric, that clings to the neck in an almost asphyxiating way.

He may refer to himself as the "resident dark artist" on his Twitter page, but some of Khalifa's images show off his refreshing knack for creating disquieting, dreamlike allure. With a relatively modest price, this may well be in the sights of younger, local collectors looking to buy a first piece for their walls.

Microbigs: Berlusconi, Merkel, Sarkozy, Obama and Kim Jong-il

• Artist: Ansen

• Estimate: Dh91,000-110,000

• Auction time: Today

There was a time when auctions in Dubai were largely limited to more traditional mediums: sculpture and painting, namely. But this collection of action figures by Ansen is a daring choice for the team who put together this month's sale.

Kim Jong-il, Barack Obama, Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy and even a growly-faced Angela Merkel have all been semi-immortalised in clay by the Turkish artist. Packaged up in the manner of limited-edition action figures - the sort that might get crowds salivating down at Comic Con this week - this collection of moulded world changers is being sold as one set. Let's see who snaps them up.

And It Was My Life That Was Flowing Slowly

• Artist: Azade Köker

• Estimate: Dh260,000-330,000

• Auction time: Today

One of the big hitters and early on in the part-one sale is this fine piece by Köker, which takes the searching stare of the sculptor Camille Claudel as its subject.

Assembled from collaged photographs, Köker reflects on the enigmatic status of a woman whose relationship with Rodin - and her subsequent descent into madness - often overshadows the ecstatic, mystic approach she had to her own craft and her skill as a sculptor. Here, the Turkish artist has assembled Claudel's face from thousands of images of human figures to create a sad, yearning, yet not altogether isolating, portrait.

Hunted Hunter

• Artist: Rokni Haerizadeh

• Estimate: Dh110,000-150,000

• Auction time: Tomorrow

An older painting by Haerizadeh from 2003, shortly before his sharp rise to international recognition, Hunted Hunter shows the stride of a number of characteristics that have since come to define this Iranian artist's work on canvas. We see his use of handwritten Farsi to craft lines, a poetic sense for constructing multiple, unfolding narratives, and a playfulness of form whereby figures are often caught in a state of transformation. Here, a pigtailed wench in roller skates swims below water to pull the tongue of a grinning, hungry wolf. Hunted Hunter is in the part-two sale and worth spending some time poring over.


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