Living Middle Eastern Artists: Who They Are and Why You Should Invest

Middle Eastern art is breaking records worldwide. In the last 10 years more art from the Middle East has been bought than at any other time in its history. With higher prices and a market that is still largely untapped, we have curated a selection of artists that are turning art into profit.

Abdulnasser Gharem is most famous for being the top selling living artist from the Gulf. His installation piece ‘Message/Messenger’ made history when it sold in Dubai for $842,500 at a Christie’s auction in 2008. Gharem’s work can be found around the world in esteemed institutions including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and LACMA in Los Angeles. You can note large influences from his Saudi Arabian heritage and military background in the art he creates. Gharem is known for the way he portrays his conceptual and often political art through painting and installation.

Farhad Moshiri is an Iraqi artist whose artwork has seen great success. In the last five years a notable 45 of his paintings have sold at auction with a value of $7,753,85. Moshiri is best known taking influences from Pop Art and consumerism and contrasting these ideas with the lavish essence of historical Persian art. He is currently based in Tehran, but studied fine arts at CalArts in California in the 1980s where he was able to experience Western consumerism first-hand. His work has now been sold all over the world at famous galleries such as Galerie Perrotin and auction houses like Christie’s. “A picture is worth a thousand words and a word a thousand pictures,” Moshiri most famously says.

El Seed is representative of a new wave in Middle Eastern art. Being the youngest on this list (34 years old), his work evokes a fresher take on traditional Arabic art and calligraphy, what he has called “calligraffiti.” The Tunisian artist is most famous for his large-scale work on famous landmarks around the world. His murals can be seen in places like New York, Jeddah, Paris and Melbourne. He has now collaborated with the likes of Louis Vuitton and has been recognized as a visionary for spreading peaceful expression through his ‘calligraffiti.’

Shadi Ghadirian is one of the many female artists changing the way the market and Middle Eastern art world recognizes women. Her work is very reflective of this as it depicts international perceptions of women’s roles and status in an Islamic state. Ghadirian is from Tehran and gets inspiration from her own life as a woman living under Shariah law. Her photography and prints have been globally acknowledged and continue to break boundaries on misconceptions of women. With work in places such as LACMA, Boudin Lebon Gallery in Paris and B21 Gallery in Dubai her pieces and their value continue to increase.

Yaacov Agam is an Israeli artist mainly recognized for introducing geometric abstraction to Israeli art. The artist’s pieces have sold extremely well at auction and since 2011 Agam has sold 86 paintings at a value of $3,817,693. His work spans many mediums including painting, sculpture, ceramics and drawings. The artist is also known for being commissioned to install the world’s largest menorah in New York City, not an easy feat. Agam’s art has been recognized globally at Art Basel and galleries in Singapore, Dubai, Brussels, London and many more.

Ahmed Alsoudani is the 10th most expensive Middle Eastern artist at auction, having sold 20 paintings in the last five years at a value of $5,704,259. Alsoudani’s art draws inspiration from the horrors of war and suffering in Baghdad, Iraq where the artist is from. Having fled to Syria and then United States in the 1990’s, he began creating work influenced by his own experiences in war. Alsoudani’s pieces depict deformed and incongruous faces that arouse feelings of conflict and suffering. He is most famous for his work with acrylic and charcoal that can be seen at places like The Saatchi Gallery and was part of the first Iraqi pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 35 years.

Mohammad Ehsai is one of the most respected Iranian artists in the world. His body of work largely reflects his extensive training in calligraphy. Ehsai incorporates styles found in Shi’i religious art and text. After being a student and teaching art in Tehran, he has gone on to sell his work around the world. He is now one of the 25 most expensive Middle Eastern artists at auction and has sold 23 paintings at a value of $3,689,551 in the last 5 years.

There are so many inspiring and investable Middle Eastern artists. Here is a list of galleries some of these artists have shown in and that we recommend you check out:

Taksheel Studio
House 10, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Third Line
3 6 Street
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Ayyam Gallery
Unit B11, Alserkal Avenue Exit 43 of SZR Street 8,
Al Quoz 1
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Mojo Gallery
Building #33, Al Serkal Avenue
Street 8, Al Quoz 1
Dubai, United Arab Emirates