Middle-Eastern artists

[16 Sep 2011]


Our Friday TOP! Every other Friday Artprice posts a theme-based auction ranking. This week we present the Top 10 auction results for works by Contemporary Middle-Eastern artists.

The current dynamism of the Middle-Eastern art market is giving young artists access to the auction market. For example, Abdulnasser Gharem (born in 1973), who in April 2011 generated $700,000 with Message/Messenger (Christie’s Dubai), is now part of the Middle-Eastern art scene that has had a strong secondary market since the 2000s with Shirin NESHAT (born 1957), whose works started selling in London and New York for more than $70,000 as of 2001 and Farhad Moshiri who generated a result of $900,000 as of 2008.

Top 10 : Ten best auction results for works by Contemporary Middle-Eastern artists

Rank Artist Hammer Price Artwork Sale
1 Abdulnasser GHAREM $700 000 Message/Messenger (2010) 04/19/2011 (Christie’s DUBAI)
2 Ahmed ALSOUDANI $289 512 Untitled (2008) 02/16/2011 (Christie’s London)
3 Ahmed ALSOUDANI $287 658 Untitled (2008) 06/29/2011 (Sotheby’s London)
4 Farhad MOSHIRI $280 000 8N619VT (2005) 04/19/2011 (Christie’s Dubaï)
5 Farhad MOSHIRI $190 000 Choc Line (from the Sweet Dreams series) 04/19/2011 (Christie’s Dubaï)
6 Farhad MOSHIRI $175 560 “14S8” (2004) 06/28/2011 (Phillips de Pury & Co London)
7 Ayman BAALBAKI $170 000 Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom (2001) 04/19/2011 (Christie’s Dubaï)
8 Reza DERAKSHANI $100 000 Silent Jingle Bells (from the Mirror of Times series) 04/19/2011 (Christie’s Dubaï)
9 Farhad MOSHIRI $98 964 Untitled (2003) 06/01/2011 (Bonhams London)
10 Ahmed AL-ASKALANY $95 000 Thinker (2010) 04/19/2011 (Christie’s Dubaï)

The Dubai market

The best result of Christie’s Dubai sale entitled Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art on 19 April this year was $700,000 for the sculpture Message/Messenger by the young Saudi artist Abdulnasser GHAREM versus a pre-sale estimate of $70,000 – $100,000. The income from the sale of this work (donated by the artist) will go to the Edge of Arabia education programme, a creative outfit investing in the promotion of Contemporary Arab art on an international scale (that has already mounted exhibitions in London, Venice, Berlin and Istanbul).
The Iranians Farhad Moshiri and Reza Derakshani, the Lebanese Ayman Baalbaki and the Egyptian Ahmed Al-Askalany generated the other best results of the sale.

More established in the auction market than his peers, Farhad MOSHIRI’s annual revenue this year is, so far, well below his scores between 2007 and 2010. At the 19 April sale, Moshiri signed a result of $280,000 for a mixed technique work entitled 8N619VT (vs. an estimate of $180,000 – $240,000) and the installation Choc Line (from the Sweet Dreams series) made of 97 small pastries painted with acrylic fetched $190,000 versus an estimate of $200,000 – $300,000.
This was substantially below the $900,000 obtained on 3 March 2008 at Bonham’s in Dubai from the sale of Eshgh (Love) a work consisting of thousands of Swarovski crystals that fetched six times its pre-sale estimate.

At the same sale Reza DERAKSHANI set a new personal auction record (breaking into 6 figures in dollars for the first time) with Silent Jingle Bells (from the Mirror of Times series) fetching $100,000 against an estimate $60,000 – $80,000. The 180cm diameter work, representing a dance scene from the Safavid period, gives the impression of a sphere but is in fact two-dimensional.

The Lebanese artist Ayman BAALBAKI also posted his best-ever auction result on 19 April with Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom fetching $170,000. The work, based on a quote by Mao Zedong (Let a hundred flowers blossom), fetched $100,000 more than its high estimate. This was also Baalkaki’s first 6-figure result in dollars.

Lastly, the Egyptian artist Ahmed AL-ASKALANY is tenth in this Top 10, with $95,000 for his bronze Thinker (2010) (est. $22,000 – $28,000). This single edition work in bronze, is very openly based on Rodin’s Penseur. The very young Askalany first appeared on the secondary market in 2010 and so far has just three results to his name, the latter considerably boosting his price index.

The London Market
In 2011 the young Ahmed ALSOUDANI (aged 35) signed two London results at £180,000 for two untitled mixed techniques he created in 2008 (16 February at Christie’s and then 29 June at Sotheby’s). Both paintings went for £20,000 below their low estimates (est. £200,000 – £300,000). The two auctioneers were optimistic after the record result of £240,000 on 15 October 2010 at Sotheby’s London for his Untitled (2007).

At the 28 June 2011 sale at Phillips de Pury in London, Farhad Moshiri’s “14S8” fetched an excellent £110,000 ($175,560) versus an estimate of $40,000 – £60,000 (6th in this Top). Bonhams in London also offered a painting by Moshiri, Untitled, at its 1 June 2011 sale: Modern & Contemporary Middle Eastern Art & South Asian Art. The work sold within its estimated range for £60,000 ($98,964), the 3rd best result of that sale.

Today, Contemporary Arab artists are receiving support from unprecedented sources in the Middle-East including specialised auction sales (Compagnie Marocaine des Œuvres & Objets d’Art de Casablanca, Beyaz Pazarlama ve Muzayedecilik and Antik AS in Istanbul, Christie’s Dubai since 2006, Bonham’s Dubai since 2008, Sotheby’s Doha since 2009). There is also a tremendous amount of energy being deployed in the International Contemporary Art fairs of Marrakech and Dubai, the alliances between Qatar and Europe (creation of a curators prize between Qatar and Italy), the events organised by Edge of Arabia and the major cultural construction projects on the Island of Saadiyat d’Abu Dhabi (a Louvre designed by Jean NOUVEL, a Guggenheim by Frank Owen GEHRY, an Art & Design Centre by Zaha HADID and a Maritime Museum designed by Tadao ANDO).