Dubai’s art world is going under the hammer again this month
Young Collectors’ Auction
October 29, 6pm, Ayyam Gallery, Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz This is our favourite auction in Dubai. Why? Because we can actually afford some of the art on offer (well, almost!). Ayyam Gallery has founded this auction to help it break into the scene, but also to educate and encourage a new generation of investors. www.ayyamgallery.com.
‘Be Colourful’ by Shadi Ghadirian Estimate: Dhs22,000-Dhs30,000 This fantastic young Iranian photographer is known for her witty yet affecting images of figures in veils with domestic items such as brooms and irons obscuring their faces. Although this work is from a lesser-known series, a similar piece from the artist (with red as the highlight colour) sold for almost twice its highest estimate, at Dhs44,000, so demand is obviously high.
The Dubai Sale
October 29, 6pm, Ayyam Gallery, Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz This new auction will run at the same time as the YCA, but will feature modern art. The range covers key works from Syria and Lebanon, and many of the paintings are from the private collection of former Syrian prime minister HE Dr Abdel Raouf El-Kassem. Works by Tawfiq Tariq, Fateh Moudarres and Louay Kayyali make this key for investors in Syrian art. Ayyam held a similar sale in Beirut in July, which raised about Dhs1.8 million. www.ayyamgallery.com.
‘From Maaloula’ by Louay Kayyali Estimate Dhs110,000-Dhs147,000 Kayyali is one of the masters of Syrian art, and his work will never go out of fashion – we’re particular fans of his gentle, stirring portraits. Born in 1934, he suffered from depression and only produced art for about a decade, in between bouts of artistic doubt. He died in 1978 when his bed caught fire from a cigarette.
‘Untitled’ by Elias Ezoli Estimate: Dhs22,000-Dhs30,000 This artist is a relative newcomer, but he’s part of Ayyam Gallery’s young artist incubator programme, so has good backing. Buying the work directly from the artist, as in this case, is a great way to start investing in art. However, with a young artist such as this, make sure you truly love a piece before you buy, because investment potential is more risky. But then high risk means high return, right?
‘Untitled’ by Paul Guiragossian Estimate: Dhs140,000-Dhs165,000 Born in 1926, Guiragossian is one of the great Lebanese masters. Although his later paintings appear abstract, there’s no doubt that decidedly feminine figures are present in his radiant works. He died in 1993 and was so popular in his homeland that he received a state funeral, and his work continues to be applauded today. In fact, two of his works are also being sold at the Christie’s sale this month (see right), and are estimated to reach between Dhs370,000 and Dhs470,000.
October 11, from 7pm, One&Only Royal Mirage, Al Sufouh Road There’s something for everyone at Bonhams’ sixth auction in Dubai: from watches to South Asian and Middle Eastern art, as well as an art sale for charity. There will also be a sale of collectors’ cars, the first of its kind in the Middle East. We’re planning to head along to this one just to observe (unfortunately we don’t have a spare million lying around to invest). www.bonhams.com.
The most expensive: ‘The Falcon and the Horse’ by MF Husain Estimate: Dhs920,000-Dhs1.3 million At 96, Husain is India’s most legendary living artist. He has a special relationship with the Gulf – he lived in Dubai and Qatar after a self-imposed exile from India because of controversy over his paintings of Hindu deities. The presence of the falcon and the horse, two of the UAE’s most beloved animals, should also mean this piece proves popular.
The most affordable: ‘Dancers and Musicians’ by Tassaduq Sohail Estimate: Dhs4,400-Dhs6,600 Born in Pakistan in 1930, Sohail ran away to London in the ’60s to ‘chase girls’ as a young man, and only returned to Pakistan 45 years later. Known as an eccentric creative, Sohail is also a great writer and his work has a sense of the fable – we particularly love his portraits of women.
In case you don’t like art… The Turin Motor Show Ferrari ‘Pinin’ Sports Saloon, 1980 Estimate: Dhs4.4 million-Dhs5.1 million The only four-door Ferrari ever built, this rare motor was designed by Pininfarina and shown at the 1980 Turin motor show. It looks a bit boxy to us… (just joking, we understand that it’s legendary).
October 26-27, 7pm, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel This auction involves the sale of everything from contemporary paintings and fine art to Chanel watches. We’re heading down to drool over a work by Egyptian-born, NYC-based Youssef Nabil – an artist whose work we’d love to own. www.christies.com.
The most expensive: ‘The Whirling Dervishes’ by Mahmoud Said Estimate: Dhs1.1 million-Dhs1.5 million Born in 1897, Mahmoud Said’s art captures the multiple faces of Egypt, and many see him as the key figure in the artistic cannon of the country. This is one of his earlier works, painted in 1926, and was the first time he captured an Islamic ritual in action. He died in 1964 at the age of 67.
In case you don’t like art… Diamond and pearl necklace Estimate: Dhs3.6 million-Dhs4.4 million Oh, to be able to raise our paddle during the auction of this little beauty.
Marjan Solimani, the Iranian art specialist and Middle East representative for Bonhams, talks us through the world of art auctions. How do pieces get chosen for Bonhams’ Dubai auctions? It’s entirely up to my vision, because I have the responsibility to choose: I look at the background of the artist and how in-demand their work is. I’m also trying to get some lesser-known artists introduced internationally. I don’t want to keep repeating the same artists, and I love to give this opportunity to younger talent: in this auction, my youngest artist is photographer Manya Akbari. She has a very good background in filmmaking and is only 33 or 34.
What’s your favourite piece from the auction? I love all of them – but if I have to mention something in this particular auction, I have an outstanding, rare sculpture from Bahman Mohasses – he passed away about a month ago in Rome and this is the first time this piece has gone up for auction. He’s a legend – he’s had paintings on auction with us before, but this is the very first sculpture of his that’s been up for auction. (Estimate: Dhs550,000-Dhs661,000.).
What are the different options for bidding? Absentee bidding, phone bidding, in-person bidding and, from the beginning of next year, we’ll have online bidding.
Do people ever bid for a piece then decide not to buy it? It can happen, but not very often, and they’ll receive a fine.
Are auctions exciting? Yes! I had a very exciting moment when we estimated a piece for about US$100,000 and it went for more than US$1 million. You just never know at an auction.
Why is Iranian art so in-demand right now? It’s mainly because Iranians come from a very strong history of art: it runs in their blood. Art is part of daily life in Iran. They’re living with art every day, from the carpet they have in their house to the painting on their walls and the clothes they wear.