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A CONSTELLATION OF ART FROM THE MIDDLE EAST From Pioneering Modern Masters to the Most Vibrant Contemporary Names of Today

  • Auktion
    A CONSTELLATION OF ART FROM THE MIDDLE EAST From Pioneering Modern Masters to the Most Vibrant Contemporary Names of Today

This delicate yet powerful work is the first by the artist to be offered at auction and encapsulates her contemporary approach to the age-old spiritual appreciation of geometry. Working with craftsmen in Morocco, Awartani has created the core shapes in wood, suspending them within the fragile lens of glass and rigid copper framing – marrying the precarious with the perfect.

Fahrelnissa Zeid, Untitled (Green Abstract) and Purple Fog, 1950s-60s, oil on canvas (est. £80,000-120,000 respectively)

One of the most influential female Turkish artists, Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid’s dynamic works embody a fusion of influences from Islamic, Byzantine, Arab and Persian art combined with stylistic elements of post-war Europe from Fauvism and Expressionism to Cubism.

Unequivocally abstract, her works from this period are composed of organically formed geometric shapes, recalling a surface of fractured light, luminous with colour – gently reminiscent of Monet’s iconic series of softly abstract waterlilies.

Zeid’s first solo show in London opened at St George Gallery in 1948 – attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother – following which she was dubbed the ‘Painter Princess’. Since then, the artist has been the subject of exhibitions across the globe, including a recent retrospective at the Tate Modern in London in 2017.


The relationship between Armenia and the other countries of the Middle East goes back for centuries, and this rich past has influenced political, economic and cultural perspectives both ways. Today, there are well-established Armenian communities in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey. This unprecedented survey takes a look at the unique and multifaceted Armenian artistic heritage. Through exile and war, many artists preserved their culture, history and language and some even moved back to the country in the 1990s – namely Marcos Grigorian and Sonia Balassanian – driven by a desire to participate in a growing local art community.

Chant Avedissian, Cities of Egypt / Greetings from Masr, 1990s, hand coloured stencil on cardboard mounted on canvas (est. £30,000-50,000)

One of the few Armenian artists from the Middle East diaspora that never moved to a Western country, Chant Avedissian lived and worked in Cairo his whole life – fusing the cosmopolitan experiences from his travels to Canada and France with his heritage to produce striking commentaries on the world around him. Avedissian’s captivating works integrate traditional Arab motifs, Islamic geometric patterns, Ottoman design and iconic figures from Egyptian history with modern pop culture featuring local celebrities and politicians.

This painted stencil from the 1990s is a window into the vibrant landscape of Egyptian cities, the curtains opening onto traditional touristic visuals of Egypt, from the pyramids and the sphinx to the Cairo Alabaster Mosque. The title Greetings from Masr is intended as a provocation, as the artist combines a standard Western form of greeting with the Arabic Word for Egypt, perhaps a statement on colonial rule and cultural appropriation.

Paul Guiragossian, Untitled, 1984, acrylic on brown paper mounted on board, in two parts (est. £50,000-70,000)

Born in Jerusalem to a family of exiled Armenians, Paul
Guiragossian moved to Jaffa in the early 1940s, teaching in
several Armenian schools. In 1956, the young artist landed a
scholarship to study at The Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, a
pivotal moment in his career. The auction offers four artworks
painted in different periods – from a small-scale watercolour to a monumental triptych – showcasing how the artist stayed loyal to his bold aesthetic vision.

Seta Manoukian, Untitled, 1987, oil on canvas (est. £10,000-12,000)

During the Civil War in Lebanon, Seta Manoukian was profoundly affected by the death, violence and devastation that she witnessed around her, and after a number of difficult years in Beirut moved to Los Angeles – where she lives today as a Buddhist nun. For almost ten years, she devoted her life to Hinduism and Buddhism and only began painting again in 2016.

This work is her meditative self-portrait from a period when she had just moved to
Hollywood, and is a reflection a lost and confused individual. The artist sits with two artworks, one of which is a small watercolour of a carpet seller in Tehran by Iranian-Armenian artist Aroutyun Vartanian in 1950. 


  • 22.10.2019
    Auktion »
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus »

    Public View: 18-22 October 


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  • A CONSTELLATION OF ART FROM THE MIDDLE EAST From Pioneering Modern Masters to the Most Vibrant Contemporary Names of Today
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus