Saudi Arabian Artists Will Auction Works at Christie’s Dubai for Edge of Arabia Education Program

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Message/Messenger, by Abdulnasser Gharem,

Edge of Arabia, an internationally renowned art project which has largely contributed to the unveiling of the Saudi Arabia art scene to the rest of the world will auction off six works at Christie’s Dubai Sale of Modern Contemporary Art, Iranian and Turkish Art on April 19th, 2011. The sale is part of a fundraiser by the project to further encourage the development of Edge of Arabia’s education program as well as art workshops in Saudi Arabian schools and universities. The group of works is expected to raise around $150,000 (AED 550,000).

“The artists in this sale include the founding members of the Edge of Arabia stable and are considered the pioneers of Saudi contemporary art. In a humbling act of appreciation, six artists have generously donated iconic works, previously shown in major Edge of Arabia exhibitions in London, Venice, Berlin and Istanbul, in order to support the expansion of an education programme targeting local communities and especially young people,” commented Stephen Stapleton, Founder of Edge of Arabia.

Highlights of the sale is Abdulnasser’s Gharem’s three metre wide wood and copper dome entitled Message/Messenger (2010) (estimated price of $70,000-100,000 / 257,000-367,000 AED) which symbolizes the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Leading Middle Eastern artist and co-founder of Edge of Arabia, Abdulnasser’s sculpture was one of the features of the project’s groundbreaking exhibition in Istanbul. Hidden beneath the large gold diameter is a dove, the symbol of peace.

These artists’ works aim emphasize an allegiance to their country and to the Arab world. Khamis Mushait, Lieutenant Colonel in the Saudi Arabian Army and another artist whose work will be auctioned voices his commitment to his homeland of Saudi Arabia, “Move abroad? No way. My art is related to the people living in Saudi Arabia. I am living in one of the most interesting countries in the world. Why move? I want to show you what has happened in this country. This is my mission.”

Co-founder of  Edge of Arabia with Gharem, Ahmed Mater is a also a practicing doctor who lives and works in the Aseer region of Sounthern Saudi Arabia. He is acclaimed for his work Evolution of Man (estimated $22,000-28,000 / 81,000-103,000 AED, an X-ray illumination series which portrays five images of a skeletal man gradually pulling a gun to his head. Mater describes himself as “…the son of this strange, scary oil civilization.”

Jeddah-based artist Ayman Yossri is of Palestinian origin with Jordanian nationality and one of the leading contemporary artists in Saudi Arabia today. Hiss work Maharem (2009) (estimated at $20,000-25,000 / 73,000-92,000 AED), an Arabic word used to describe tissues or your close family, is made from 64 tissue boxes and decorated with posters advertising classic Arabic films from the 1940s and 1950s. Leading Saudi lens-based artist Manal Al Dowayan known for her portrayal of Saudi women’s issues through her art offers her triptych Time Seduces and Time Betrays (estimated $15,000-20,000 / 55,000-73,000 AED) . It is the latest from her series And We Had No Shared Dreams which depicts an imaginary conversation between urban dwellers and their cityscape reverting to feelings of uncertainty and constant change. Maha Malluh, the other female artist working mainly as a photographer and based in Riyadh, provides the auction with her work Unvieled (estimate: $5,000-7,000 / 18,000-26,000 AED), a large lightbox with a group of kitchen utensils with smiling faces. Sami Al-Turki’s work Marhabba from the series Washaeg is a Lambda print mounted on aluminum portraying two figures walking through the desert with an expansive sky with piercing bright sunlight from breaking gray clouds. An artist’s proof from a sold out edition of 3, it has an estimated value of $5,000-7,000 / 18,000-26,000 AED.

In 2009 Christie’s had a sale which included a small but important lot of works by Saudi Arabian contemporary artists. All of the works sold. Saudi Arabia is an important area of growth for Christie’s which recently appointed a representative in the Kingdom. The works up for auction attest to the vibrant developing art scene and the commitment and dedication of Edge of Arabia to further spread the word of art.

Christie’s auction of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art takes place at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 7pm

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