Tue, Oct 14, 2014

Art & Auctions
Doha auction of contemporary art nets $8m

Contemporary art worth a total of $8 million was snapped up at a Sotheby’s auction yesterday in Doha, Qatar.

The auction, titled Contemporary Art Doha, achieved the strong total of $8,006,625, solidly between pre-sale expectations of $6.2-8.5 million, says Sotheby’s, adding that the sale was 84.6 per cent sold by lot and records were established for 13 artists.

The top lot of the sale was Anish Kapoor’s Untitled stainless steel work of 2009 which sold after extended bidding for $1.59 million (estimate $700,000-900,000) – the highest price achieved for a work by the artist in the Middle East.

Damien Hirst’s beautifully constructed and flawlessly executed Tranquility fetched $845,000 (estimate $1,000,000–1,500,000). Like the beating of butterfly wings, the canvas breathes life into the room. The title evokes both the tranquil state that is produced by being in the presence of such beauty.

The cover lot of the sale, The Chase, by internationally acclaimed and highly sought-after artist Ali Banisadr was hotly contested by 16 bidders, eventually selling for $557,000 (estimate $180,000-250,000). Drawing on both Eastern and Western artistic traditions, Banisadr’s work recalls both the startling complexity of Persian miniatures and the wide-ranging landscapes of the Flemish Old Masters.

The first video artwork ever auctioned by internationally acclaimed Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, Passage, fetched $269,000 (estimate $200,000-300,000). Renowned for her evocative and cinematographic films that explore themes of feminism and Islamic culture, Neshat’s work is considered the most significant film installation of the artist’s career. Never before has any video artwork sold at auction in the Middle East, and this is the first time that her work has appeared at auction. This work has been extensively exhibited and editions are housed in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

A record was achieved for Monir Farmanfarmaian, a pioneer within the contemporary Iranian art world, whose cutting edge mirror work Three Brothers sold for $233,000 (estimate $70,000–100,000). A fusion of classical Persian Art and Iran’s traditional crafts techniques with a unique and modern aesthetic Farmanfarmaian’s artwork draws inspiration from classical Iranian culture and tradition.

Heaven’s Doors by Saudi artist Rashed Al Shashai tonight fetched $106,250 (estimate $60,000-80,000). While the kingdom’s art scene previously lagged behind other artistic developments in the Middle East, cutting-edge Saudi art has finally found its way thanks to a new generation of pioneers who are pushing the trajectory of contemporary art in the country. Al Shashai’s monumental installations comment on the superficiality and lack of spirituality of mankind, which is questioned throughout his body of work. Reminiscent of stained glass cathedral windows, on closer inspection Heaven’s Doors references not only the spiritual but also the mundane.

Vesta by Nabil Nahas - Lebanon's most renowned abstract artist sold well above high estimate for $245,000 (estimate $100,000–150,000).

Bruno Vinciguerra, Sotheby's Chief Operating Officer, said: "Sotheby's success with Contemporary Art Doha speaks powerfully of the company's commitment to the Middle Eastern region. Our ambitious schedule of activities in the months leading up to this sale allowed us to significantly extend our international reach to clients and potential clients across a range of global venues and in a variety of ways. From our presence at Jeddah Art Week and during Dubai Art Fair earlier in the year, through our exhibition and lecture series in London this summer, our New York viewing of highlights in September, culminating in the exhibition this past week and sale in Doha, we have been able to share with our clients a rich range of experiences and expand their appreciation of the variety of possibilities that Sotheby offers."

Aileen Agopian, Sotheby's Senior Vice President, International Contemporary Art Specialist, said: “Artists who are redefining the contemporary art scene - many of whom we were introducing for the first time in the region - attracted participation from 22 countries, and bidders drove prices to record levels for 13 artists underscoring the truly international appeal of the artists presented in the sale, and the global platform that our Doha sale offers. We are particularly thrilled that Banisadr’s exceptional work commanded bids from as many as 16 bidders from 10 different countries.”

The 13 artists who got record prices at the auction included Hadieh Shafie (10211 Pages, $50,000), Banisadr (The Chase, $557,000), Khalil Rabah (Philistine 1997, $40,625), Neshat (Passage, $269,000), Nabil Nahas (Vesta, $245,000), Monir Farmanfarmaian (Three Brothers, $233,000), Tawfik Tarek (Saida in Flames, $50,000), Hatem El-Mekki (Les Réfugiés, $305,000), Abdulhalim Radwi (Hart Al Sham, $118,750), Nja Mahdaoui (Ikhtilej (1995 – 2013 ($341,000), Mahmud Obaidi (Farewell Kiss, $62,500), John Jurayj (Untitled, from Cedars of Lebanon Series, 1968, #17, $37,500), and Abdullah Qandeel (The Enemy Within, $209,000).

© Al Hilal Group all rights reserved. Designed & Developed by North Star.