Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Middle East masterpieces for auction in London

Middle Eastern art from the 20th century to go on auction this month in London

Louai Kayali's 'Untitled (Portrait of the Artist's Niece)'. Courtesy Sotheby's
Louai Kayali's 'Untitled (Portrait of the Artist's Niece)'. Courtesy Sotheby's

Sotheby’s will present rare masterpieces by artists from the Middle East this month in an exhibition that will open to the public in London on April 20 before an auction on April 24. Some of the 20th century works include Recollections I by Monir Farmanfarmaian, Adam and Eve by Mahmoud Said, Bahman Mohasses, I by Bahman Mohasses, Composition Abstraite (Abstract Composition) by Saliba Douaihy, Untitled (Portrait of the Artist’s Niece) by Louai Kayali, Bustan Al-Ma’refa (The Orchard of Knowledge) by Shakir Hassan Al-Said, Untitled (Still Life with Pineapple) by Manoucher Yektai, La Clairière (The Meadow) by Antoine Malliarakis Mayo and Untitled (Tree Trunks and Village Scene) by Sohrab Sepehri.

Born in Aleppo, Kayali is considered to be one of the most important Syrian artists of the 20th century. His work, Untitled (Portrait of the Artist’s Niece), above, was painted in the 1960s, and depicts his 10-year-old niece with great tenderness and compassion, and comes from the estate of Pearl Baker.

A diplomat and traveller, Baker took a trip to visit her friends in the foreign service in Damascus in 1964, where she was introduced to Kayali, who was there painting portraits for the UN personnel at the time. In her personal memoir, she recalls having bought this painting, which she proudly hung in her living room in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Said’s Adam and Eve will be on auction for the first time. He is renowned as the founder of modern Egyptian art, flouring during a time of intellectual renaissance in the country. This daring, vivid work from 1937 encapsulates the dialogue between the history of art in Europe and the sensuous qualities of the prevailing Egyptian spirit. Inspired by Old Masters such as Lucas Cranach, Baroque artists Peter Paul Rubens and Rembrandt and the romanticism of Paul Cezanne, Said drew on many influences in a quest for the “magical light” derived from an Egyptian consciousness.


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