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Christie's stages huge Middle Eastern art exhibition

Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Christie's   -  
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United Kingdom

Visitors to one of the biggest Middle Eastern art exhibitions ever held at Christie's in London can see the vivid coloured orbs dominating a painting by Lebanese artist Samia Osseiran Joumblatt.

Among more than 150 works on show are ‘Head’, by the late Syrian painter Marwan Kassab-Bachi, and ‘The Last Sound’, by celebrated Sudanese artist, Ibrahim El-Salahi.

Curator, Deputy Chairman, Middle East and North Africa, Christie's, Dr Ridha Moumni explained: "Christie's operates in the Middle East. And Christie's also is a bridge between different geographies. 

"So, we thought it would be the perfect moment to present during this period of the year where you have a lot of people coming from different destinations, including from the Arab world, to bring these beautiful artworks. These artworks are all from one region, the Arab region."

The works span from 1939 to present day.

While there is a focus on Emirati artists, works from across the region are included, such as “Dreams of the Detainee’, by the Egyptian Inji Afflatoun, and ‘Il nous a dit comment cela s’est passé,' by Kadhim Hayder from Iraq.

"I think the artists in general are windows into reality, cultural reality, social reality," says Moumni.  "So, they represent what they are seeing. So, a lot of them were seeing or are still seeing the Middle East. So in a lot of artworks, what do you see? 

"You see the description of society, the description of their feelings, and you see somehow, sometimes, often you see their background or their cultural background."

A second exhibition honours one of the greats of Middle Eastern art, Hassan Sharif.

The Emirati lived and worked in Dubai until his death in 2016.

He was a pioneer of conceptual art and known for his work with a variety of materials.

Sharif inspired a new generation of artists in the Arab world, so his pieces are being displayed alongside contemporary works by young artists like Farah Al Qasimi.

Dr Moumni described the importance of Sharif

"Hassan Sharif is one of the most exceptional artists of the Arab world. He brought conceptual art to the UAE and also to the Gulf and was avant garde and really reinvented the conceptual art in the Arab world. He was extremely impactful."

Most of the works across the two exhibitions are on loan, with 100 coming from the Barjeel Art Foundation but around 30 will be going up for sale later this year.

The exhibition is being held in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth and the Barjeel Art Foundation.

It runs until August 23.

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