Wednesday, November 25, 2015

53 Works, A Century of Middle Eastern Art Part II, with subtitles

Abdul Kadir Al Rassam, View of the Tigris
Abdul Qadir Al Rassam,  (1882 - 1952)
13.78 X 20.87 in (35 X 53 cm)
oil on canvas
Creation Date: 1934

Abdul Qadir Al Rassam,  (1882 - 1952), was born in Baghdad, Iraq. He was the first well-known painter in modern Iraq and the leader of realism school in Iraq. He studied military science and art at the Military College, Istanbul, Turkey, (then the capital of the Ottoman Empire) from 1904. He studied art and painting in the European traditional style and became a landscape painter, he painted many landscapes of Iraq in the realism style, using shading and composition to suggest time periods. He was a major figure among the first generation of modern Iraqi artists and was a member of the Art Friends Society (AFS, Jami’yat Asdiqa’ al-Fen). A collection of his work is hung in The Pioneers Museum, Baghdad. A prolific painter of oils, the majority of his works are now in private hands. More

Jewad Selim (Iraq, 1919-1961)
Figure of a Girl 
signed "Jewad Selim 1948" (in English) and further signed "Jewad" (in Arabic) on the base, executed in 1948
Height: 85 Cm

The present work was sculpted whilst Selim was studying in London on a government scholarship; he started at the Chelsea School of Art in January 1946, but moved to the Slade School of Fine Art in September of that same year, where he met his future wife and fellow art student, Lorna (see below), whom he married in 1950. 

Jewad Selim (1919 – 1961) was an Iraqi sculptor born in Ankara (Turkey) in 1919. He studied sculpture in Paris (1938-1939), Rome (1939-1940) and London (1946-1949). After he returned to Iraq, he was appointed head of the Sculpture Dept. at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, a position he retained until his death in 1961. He founded the Group of Baghdad for Modern Art, as well as the new Baghdad School of Modern Art. He is especially known for his Liberty Monument, located in one of Baghdad's main squares. In this monument, the artist celebrated the Iraqi people and the 1958 Revolution. He was a founding member of the Iraqi Artists Society. More

Lorna Selim (Iraq, born 1928) Baghdad Alley
Lorna Selim (Iraq, born 1928)
Baghdad Alley 
oil on hardboard, framed
signed "Lorna, 2008, 1987, 1970" in English (lower right), conceived in 1970, and executed between 1987-2008
40 x 40cm (15 3/4 x 15 3/4in).

Lorna Selim (Iraq, born 1928) received a scholarship to study at the Slade School of Fine Arts, London, where she received a diploma in painting and design in 1948. The following year she received an Art Teachers' Diploma (ATD) from the London University Institute of Education. From 1949–50 she taught art at the Tapton House Grammar School, Chesterfield, England. 

In the UK, she met Jewad Selim (See Above) and they married in 1950. Returning to Baghdad, Lorna Selim became a member of the Baghdad Modern Art Group, Art Friends Society, and Society of Iraqi Plastic Artists. During the 1950s, she exhibited her work with the Baghdad Modern Art Group and the Pioneers Group. She was an art teacher at Ta'ssisiya School, Baghdad, in 1951, and participated in the Iraqi Pavilion Design for the International Fair held in Damascus in 1954. Along with Mohamed Ghani Hikmet, she supervised the completion of Jewad Selim's Monument of Freedom after his sudden death in 1961. 

She taught drawing and painting at the Girls College in 1961, and the architecture department of the Engineering College, Baghdad University, in 1965. She lives and works in Abergavenny, Wales. Her work is held in collections including Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha.

Najib Yunes (Iraq, 1930-2007) Untitled
Najib Yunes (Iraq, 1930-2007)
oil on canvas, framed
signed and dated 1981
43 x 60cm (16 15/16 x 23 5/8in)

Bahjat Abbosh (Iraq) The Bathhouse
Bahjat Abbosh (Iraq)
The Bathhouse 
oil on board, framed
signed and dated 1968 (lower left), executed in 1968
47 x 66cm (18 1/2 x 26in)

Faeq Hassan (Iraq, 1914-1992) The Goldsmith
Faeq Hassan (Iraq, 1914-1992)
The Goldsmith 
oil on canvas, framed
signed and dated "1980" (lower right), executed in 1980
73 x 78cm (28 3/4 x 30 11/16in).

Faeq Hassan (Iraq, 1914-1992) was an Iraqi painter, born in Baghdad. He graduated from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris in 1938. He founded the Painting Department at the Fine Arts Institute in 1939-1940. Founded the Pioneers Group (or S.P) in 1950. He participated in its exhibitions until 1967 when he joined in founding the Corner Group and participated in its first exhibition. Took part in the Friends of Art Society in 1943 and 1946. Participated in the Avicenna Exhibition in Baghdad in 1952. Organized a number of one - man exhibitions in Baghdad, in 1962-1967 and 1971. Participated in most national exhibitions outside Iraq. Joined nine artists in the Iraq Art Exhibition in Beirut in 1965. Member of the Iraqi Artists Society. More

Akram Shukri (Iraq, 1910-1986) Abstract Composition
Akram Shukri (Iraq, 1910-1986)
Abstract Composition 
oil on canvas framed
executed in 1956
67 x 59cm (26 3/8 x 23 1/4in).

Akram Shukri is considered one of the most important artists in the development of the Iraqi modern art movement, and although primarily an architect he was the founding member of the Society of Artists and Art Lovers in 1941. This group included important Iraqi artists such as Jawad Selim, Hafiz Droubi and Faik Hassan. Numerous members of this society went on to found other important artist groups; Faik Hassan was the leader of La Societe Primitive which later became known as The Pioneers, and Hafiz Droubi formed a group known as The Baghdad Group of Modern Art. 

Many of the artists from the early groups were educated in Europe at establishments such as the Academie National des Beaux Arts in Paris and the Rome Academy. When they returned to Iraq they brought back techniques and styles which although common place in Europe were revolutionary in Iraq. The groups of the 40s and 50s were breeding grounds for new nationalistic artistic forms and their importance in the history of modern Iraqi art cannot be disputed. Their members paved the way for the artists of the 60s and 70s and their techniques, whilst rooted in the European style display a visual national identity hitherto unseen in Iraqi art.

Shukri's works rarely appear at auction and this example is notable for its intense colours and attractive composition. It depicts a 'Choubi' or 'Dabka', a traditional Iraqi folk dance usually performed by men at celebratory occasions such as weddings. The semi-abstract depiction of native Iraqi folk sits in juxtaposition with the frantic 'Pollock-esque' background which presents the viewer with a multi-layered and complex work rich in Iraqi heritage.

Shakir Hassan Al-Said (Iraqi, born 1925) Harun Al Rashid
Shakir Hassan Al-Said (Iraqi, born 1925)
Harun Al Rashid 
oil on wood, framed
executed circa 1950's, inscribed "a gift to my dear Hajer" (on the verso)
75 x 50cm (29 1/2 x 19 11/16in).

Harun Al Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. Al Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. His time was marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. Islamic art and music also flourished significantly during his reign. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma ("House of Wisdom") in Baghdad in present-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade

However, it was not historical achievements which kept the memory of Harun alive, but his role in the stories collected in Isfahani's great Book of Songs and the collection of traditional stories known as the Arabian Nights. Here he is the caliph who explores the streets of his capital by night in disguise and joins in the lives and adventures of his subjects. He is accompanied by a small group of companions, notably his closest friend Ja'far the Barmakid, his chief factotum the eunuch Masrur, and the poet and court jester Abu Nuwas. 

The earliest known version of the Nights dates from the fourteenth century and many of the stories that we think of as typical of them, such as AIi Baba and Aladdin, date from well after that. However, cycles of stories about Harun and his court were already in circulation within a generation of his death and soon acquired a fantastical aspect. 

This was an ideal subject matter for an artist such as Shakir Hassan, whose "Baghdad Group" work is characterized by the mythologizing of popular Iraqi folk themes. The mystique and intrigue surrounded the historical figure of Al Rashid at once transform him into an object of myth, a figment of a narrative whose true nature is distorted, embellished, and elevated to the status of legend, it is this "fictitious" or "legendary" Rashid which Shakir Hassan depicts in his colorful, kaleidoscopic, and buoyant representation.

Shakir Hassan Al Said  (1925–2004), was an Iraqi painter, sculptor and writer, is considered one of Iraq's most innovative and influential artists.

Born in Samawa, Al Said lived, worked and died in Bagdad. He received in 1948 a degree in social science from the Higher Institute of Teachers in Baghdad and in 1954 a diploma in painting from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad where he was taught by Jawad Saleem. He continued his studies at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris until 1959, where he was taught by Raymond Legueult. During his stay in Paris, he discovered Western modern art in galleries and Sumerian art at the Louvre. After his return to Baghdad in 1959, Al Said studied the work of Yahya ibn Mahmud al-Wasiti, sufism and Mansur Al-Hallaj. He gradually abandoned figurative expressions and centered his compositions on Arabic calligraphy.

He co-founded in 1951 with Jawad Saleem Jama'et Baghdad lil Fann al-Hadith (Baghdad Modern Art Group), one of the most unique arts movements in the Middle East in the post–World War II, that aimed to achieve an artistic approach both modern and embracing of tradition. This specific approach was called Istilham al-turath (Seeking inspiration from tradition), considered as "the basic point of departure, to achieve through modern styles, a cultural vision". He headed the group after the death of Saleem in 1961.

In 1971, he founded Al Bu'd al Wahad (the One-dimension Group)", which promoted the modern calligraphic school in Arab art. More

Shakir Hassan Al Said (Iraq, 1925-2004) Al-Muntassirun (The Victorious)
Shakir Hassan Al Said (Iraq, 1925-2004)
Al-Muntassirun (The Victorious) 
mixed media on wooden panel
signed and dated "1983" (upper right), executed in 1983
122 x 101cm (48 1/16 x 39 3/4in).

Produced during the nadir of the Iran-Iraq war, a bloody conflict which saw the futile loss of nearly a million lives on both sides, Shakir Hassan's cynical title "The Victorious" is a subtle jibe at the hollow political narratives which spur human conflict.

Qassim Naji (Iraq, 1910-1985) Beneath the Rising Sun (14th July Revolution 1958)
Qassim Naji (Iraq, 1910-1985)
Beneath the Rising Sun (14th July Revolution 1958) 
oil on canvas, framed
signed in Arabic (lower left), executed in 1958
186 x 120cm (73 1/4 x 47 1/4in).

The present work is a striking, monumental and extremely rare example of twentieth century Iraqi political art. Celebrating the victory of Abd al-Karim Qasim in overthrowing the Iraqi monarchy during the 14th July Revolution, the painting depicts a heroic Pan-Arabic, resistance against the darkness of despotism and the imposing serpents of pernicious imperialist powers. 

On a wider scale, Naji's depiction speaks of the gorwing phenomenon of Pan-Arabism taking form after the advent of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt; the notion that the divisive and destructive era of Ottoman and Colonial rule could be vanquished by Arab unity was a particularly attractive proposition for aspiring politicians seeking to bind populations that were divided by ethnic sectarian and national lines. 

Hafiz Drubi (Iraq, 1914-1991) The Dancer
Hafiz Drubi (Iraq, 1914-1991)
The Dancer 
oil on canvas, framed
signed lower right and dated 1960, executed in 1960
80 x 60cm (31 1/2 x 23 5/8in).

Hafidh al-Droubi (1914 - 1991) is primarily remembered for his work as an educator and developer of art pedagogy in Iraq during the mid-twentieth century. Yet he was also an active painter who possessed a talent for capturing the beauty of everyday life through a sophisticated manipulation of form and color. Al-Droubi is considered one of the pioneers of Iraqi modern art as he made several early contributions to its development. 

Al-Droubi began his formal education in the arts at the Accademia Reale in Rome, becoming one of the first Iraqi artists to study abroad. He would later earn a degree from Goldsmiths College in London in 1950. After his studies in Rome, he returned to Iraq and became an active participant in the burgeoning art scene. During the formative years between studying in Rome and London, Al-Droubi took several steps to professionalize art practice in Iraq. In 1941, he established Iraq's first free artist studio, which gave aspiring artists a space to learn and practice art-making. In the subsequent decade, Al-Droubi opened similar artist studios at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Baghdad University, where he could supervise and encourage emerging talent. Many other studios like these opened around Baghdad, each headed by established artist. This system proved highly effective as many notable Iraqi artists received their early training from these ateliers.

Al-Droubi was also a founding member of the Society of the Friends of Art, whose membership included Jewad Selim, Faiq Hassan, and Abdul Qadir al-Rassam. In 1953, al-Droubi founded the Impressionist Group as an extension of his work as an art educator. The group largely followed al-Droubi's pedagogical agendas and consisted of his students and colleagues, including Dia Azzawi. 

Al-Droubi is most commonly known for his cubist works. However, the extent to which he adhered to the Cubist paradigm as it was practiced in Europe is open to debate. With that said, his work does exhibit an aesthetic reference arising from the cubist tendency to fragment space and shift perspective. However, his variant use of this fragmentation and his insistence on maintaining naturalistic forms is quite unique to his practice. More

Hafiz Drubi (Iraq, 1914-1991) Cubist Bathhouse
Hafiz Drubi (Iraq, 1914-1991)
Cubist Bathhouse 
oil on wood, framed
signed "H.Drubi" (bottom centre), executed circa 1960's
100 x 75cm (39 3/8 x 29 1/2in)

Widad Al Orfali (Iraq, born 1929 ) City-Scape
Widad Al Orfali (Iraq, born 1929 )
mixed media on paper, framed
signed (lower right), 
49 x 105cm (19 5/16 x 41 5/16in)

Widad Al Orfali; Born in 1929, Orfali studied at the Baghdad Institute of Fine Arts, Widad honed her talent under pioneer Iraqi artist Khalid Al Jadir. 

A visit to Andalusia in Spain was a major turning point in Widad's artistic life. Deeply fascinated by the detailed and decorative manifestations of ancient Andalusian culture, she could not resist changing from realism art to a new world of 'Expression' and her work became an unusual, glorious celebration of her own oriental "Dream Cities". They were her 'Fantasia' that portrayed the beauty of domes, arches, decorations and colours; the timeless spirit of Andalusia entwined with her love for beloved Iraq, subsequently rhythms of Arabia is born.

Paul Guiragossian (Lebanon, 1927-1993) Untitled (The Mother)
Paul Guiragossian (Lebanon, 1927-1993)
Untitled (The Mother) 
oil on canvas, framed
signed "Paul.G" in English (lower left), executed circa 1960's
118 x 89cm (46 7/16 x 35 1/16in).

In the suffering of the mother, Guiragossian points to the duality of her plight in bearing the emotional burden of her families hardship as well as that of her own, the suffering of others is therefore realized through the anguish of the mother for her children, and she as a medium both amplifies and intensifies this suffering. This also highlights the morbid irony of societies which hurt those who are life givers, thus alienating them from their life-giving qualities.

Paul Guiragossian (1925 – 1993) was an Lebanese painter. Born to Armenian parents, survivors of the Armenian Genocide, Paul Guiragossian experienced the consequences of exile from a very tender age. Raised in boarding schools, Paul grew up away from his mother who had to work to make sure her two sons got an education. As a child Paul remembers looking out from the window watching children flying their kites and they would always ask him to draw theirs because he did the most beautiful and colorful designs. In the early 1940s Paul and his family moved to Jaffa where he attended Studio Yarkon to start improving his passion of painting. In late 1947, the family moved again and settled in Lebanon.

In the 1950s Paul started teaching art in several Armenian schools and worked as an illustrator. He later started his own business with his brother Antoine painting cinema banners, posters and drawing illustrations for books. Soon after he was discovered for his art and introduced to his contemporaries after which he began exhibiting his works in Beirut and eventually all over the world. In 1956 he won the first prize in a painting competition, which landed him a scholarship by the Italian government to study at the Academia di Belle Arti di Firenze. While in Florence, Paul had multiple exhibitions starting with a solo show in 1958 at the Galeria D’Arte Moderna “La Permanente”. In 1962, Paul was granted another scholarship, this time by the French Government, to study and paint in Paris at Les Atelier Des Maîtres De L’Ecole De Paris and by the end of that year he had a solo exhibition at the Galerie Mouffe. By the mid 1960s Guiragossian had grown to become one of the most celebrated artists in Lebanon and eventually of the Arab world and even though war broke out in the early 1970s, his attachment to Lebanon grew bigger and his works became more colorful with messages of hope for his people. In 1989 Paul went to Paris to exhibit his works in La Salle Des Pas Perdus in UNESCO and resided in the city with part of his family until 1991. At the end of that 1991 Guiragossian had a solo exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe. This exhibition was extended and marked the very first solo show at the IMA for any artist. Paul died November 20, 1993, in Beirut, after completing a magnificent oil painting which he revealed to his family to be his best work yet. The family agreed to entitle the painting "L'Adieu" and it remains unsigned in the Guiragossian Family Collection. More

Paul Guiragossian (Lebanon, 1927-1993) Three Figures
Paul Guiragossian (Lebanon, 1927-1993)
Three Figures 
oil on canvas, framed
signed "Paul.G" lower right
22 x 14cm (8 11/16 x 5 1/2in).

Mahmoud Hammad (Syrian, 1923-1988) Cain and Abel
Mahmoud Hammad (Syrian, 1923-1988)
Cain and Abel 
oil on canvas, framed
signed "Hammad" and dated "1958" (lower left), executed in 1958
74 x 74cm (29 1/8 x 29 1/8in).

In Persian mythology, the rival brothers are the gods Ahriman and Ahura Mazda. Islamic tradition calls them Kabil (Cain) and Habil (Abel).

Mahmoud Hammad (Syrian, 1923-1988) was a pioneer of modern Syrian art, he studied art in Accademia di belle arti di Roma during 1953–1957 in the art of engraving and especially the art medal manufacturing.

After completing his studies he returned to Damascus in 1960 and taught as professor at the Fine Arts Faculty of Damascus since its creation. From 1970 until 1980, he became dean at the Fine Arts Faculty of Damascus. 

In 1939 he started exhibiting in most Arab countries, in Europe and in USA. In 1948, first prize in Arts in Damascus Exhibition. In 1957, first prize at the competition of the city of Naples. In 1959, first prize at the competition of Ministry of Culture in United Arab Republic.

Fouad Kamel (Egypt, 1919-1999) Trajectoire du rêve
Fouad Kamel (Egypt, 1919-1999)
Trajectoire du rêve 
oil on wood, framed
signed and dated "1941" (top right)
121 x 81cm (47 5/8 x 31 7/8in).

Between death and everlasting life there is a fierce battle producing a most dreadful mutilation which I encounter in my paintings. Indeed into the depths of everything a spirit is creeping, even into the inanimate – Fouad Kamel

The Egyptian Surrealist movement, "Art E Liberte", was founded by George Henein with a group of Egyptian and expatriate avant-garde artists in protest against Fascist and Nazist anti-art sentiment. They called their art 'decadent', in support of the poet Andre Breton, and his statement, signed by Mexican artist Diego Rivera, Towards an Independent Art. 

A number of Egyptian artists, including Fouad Kamel, Rameses Younan and Kamel el-Telmesany, in addition to a great number of Egyptian and expatriate intellectuals, signed a statement prepared by poet George Henein, entitled "Long Live Decadent Art!" It was published in Al-Fann Al-Hurr (Free Art) magazine in December 1938. 

The presence of many foreign artists, poets, writers and critics in Egypt at the time played a crucial role in spreading an air of liberation and the dissemination of Socialist thought; George Henein, with his refined French education, was the link between these Egyptianized expatriates and the artists of Egypt. 

Fouad Kamel (Egyptian, 1919-1973) 
signed 'Fouad Kamel' (lower right) 
oil on canvas 
31 3/8 x 23¼in. (80 x 59cm.) 

Fouad Kamel (Egyptian, 1919-1973) 
signed and dated 'Fouad Kamel 59' (upper left) 
oil on canvas 
31¼ x 21 5/8in. (79.5 x 55cm.) 
Painted in 1959 

Fouad Kamel (Egypt, 1919-1999) Abstract Composition
Fouad Kamel (Egypt, 1919-1999)
Abstract Composition 
oil on board, framed
signed (lower right), executed in 1967
40 x 50cm (15 3/4 x 19 11/16in).

Mahmoud Said (Egypt, 1897-1964) View of Aswan
Mahmoud Said (Egypt, 1897-1964)
View of Aswan 
oil on paper, framed
signed "M.SAID" (lower left)
10 x 17cm (3 15/16 x 6 11/16in)

Originally destined for a legal career, Mahmoud Said graduated from the French School of Law in 1919. He worked as a lawyer, prosecutor, and then as judge in Mansouria, Alexandria and Cairo. He resigned from legal work in 1947, to dedicate himself solely to his art.

Mahmoud Said was taught by the Italian artist, Emilha Fazotano de Foreno, a resident of Alexandria who had studied at the Florence Academy. Said quickly learnt the classical methods of drawing faces, harmonization of colours and shading. He took further lessons by with another Florentine artist Artoro Zananeri, before leaving for Paris in 1920 for further study. 

Mahmoud Said's crowning achievement was the application of a distinctly European aesthetic to strictly Egyptian and Nationalistic subject matters. Said participated in international exhibitions in Venice, Madrid and Alexandria. He staged exhibitions in New York, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Alexandria and Cairo. He was admitted to the French Legion d'honneur, winning a medal for Honorary Merit in 1951, and in 1960 was the first artist to be awarded the State Merit Award for Arts by Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser. 

Said was as highly acclaimed in landscapes as he was in figurative painting and the vistas he encountered on many of his trips were recorded in the exceptional and varied group of landscape paintings which he produced throughout his career. The present view of Aswan, likely the depiction of an elevation of the Temple of Isis at Philae, is a prime example of his ability in this field. 

Mahmoud Said (Egypt, 1897-1964) Nude Figure
Mahmoud Said (Egypt, 1897-1964)
Nude Figure 
pencil on paper, framed
signed "M.SAID" (lower right)
26 x 19cm (10 1/4 x 7 1/2in).

Mahmoud Said (Egypt, 1897-1964) Self Portrait
Mahmoud Said (Egypt, 1897-1964)
Self Portrait 
pencil on paper, framed
16 x 10cm (6 5/16 x 3 15/16in)

Manoucher Yektai (Iran, born 1922) Portrait of Iris Clert
Manoucher Yektai (Iran, born 1922)
Portrait of Iris Clert 
oil on canvas
signed "Yektai 60" (lower left), executed in 1960, the verso bearing an exhibition stamp from the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Genève
195 x 250cm (76 3/4 x 98 7/16in).

Depicting the colourful and exuberant Parisian gallerist Iris Clert, the painting was first exhibited in 1961 in Paris alongside works by Lucio Fontana, Robert Rauschenberg, Yves Klein and Arman all of whom showcased their esoteric portraits of the famous gallery owner. 

Manoucher Yektai (Iran, born 1922). Born in Tehran, Yektai is considered one of the unsung founders of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. Between 1945 and 1947, he studied with Amédée Ozenfant in Paris, France, and later in New York City. 

In 1951 and 1952 Leo Castelli brought some friends, including early Abstract-Expressionist painters, to see Yektai's New York exhibitions shows . Castelli introduced him to the 8th Street Club in 1951 and he soon became a friend of Rothko,Tobey, Guston, and others. In the mid-1950S he was included in classic group exhibitions of early Abstract-Expressionism at the Stable Gallery and elsewhere, with older generationl artists such as DeKooning, Pollock, Newman, and Kline. From 1957 till 1965 he showed at Poindexter.With this background it would be easy to regard Yektai as a member - almost a founding member - of the New York School.

Ardeshir Mohasses (Iran, 1938-2008) The Arbiter of All Justice
Ardeshir Mohasses (Iran, 1938-2008)
The Arbiter of All Justice 
ink on paper, framed
signed "Ardeshir " (lower left), dated "96", and titled "Farmaneye Kolle Ghova", executed in 1996
58 x 76cm (22 13/16 x 29 15/16in).

Ardeshir Mohasses (9 September 1938 in Rasht - died 9 October 2008 in New York). Ardeshir Mohassess was born on Sept. 9, 1938, in Rasht, in northwest Iran. His mother was a poet and headmistress of the first school for women in Rasht; his father was a judge, and his maternal grandmother painted at home. At 3, he began drawing characters from his mother’s bedtime stories. He published his first cartoon in 1951, The Iran Bulletin (now named Iran Bulletin — Middle East Forum) reported.

Mr. Mohassess earned degrees in both political science and law from the University of Tehran, then worked as a librarian in the library of Iran’s housing ministry. He told The Bulletin he quit because he had read most of the books in the library and feared “becoming addicted to a monthly salary.”

He next began to draw cartoons for the daily newspaper Keyhan. He was at first unpaid, but made one demand, that the newspaper not make any modifications whatsoever in his work. He began to get good reviews and published his first anthology in 1971.

His popularity provoked interest by Savak, the shah’s secret police. When they saw a reference to tortured political prisoners in his headless and limbless figures, he responded by drawing figures with several heads and many limbs. The pressure worsened when the shah complained to the Keyshan editor that Mr. Mohassess was transmitting seditious messages in code. “Don’t print what you don’t understand,” the shah said, according to The Bulletin.

With his jobs drying up, Mr. Mohassess settled permanently in New York in 1977, where he was soon published in The New York Times, The Nation, Playboy and elsewhere. He also exhibited in galleries and drew the attention of critics fascinated by his eclectic influences, which included centuries-old Shiite art depicting eye-popping violence. More

Mahmoud Moussa (Egypt, 1913-2003) The Worker Height: 100cm
Mahmoud Moussa (Egypt, 1913-2003)
The Worker 
one from an edition of five
Height: 100cm

The present work is an example of Moussa's signature "Pharonic Revival" style, blending elements of ancient statuary, a turn of the century art-deco aesthetic and a distinctly social realist subject matter. 

Depicting the the common "fellah" or Egyptian agricultural laborer, Moussa elevates his stature to that of a national hero, a common theme in social realist art which sought to glorify the struggle and the achievements of common citizens over those of the perceived oppressive elite. 

This specific work was conceived as a tribute to the workers who perished during the construction of the Suez Canal; it is reported that up to 120,000 workers were lost during the construction between 1856 and 1869 under forced labour conditions. 

Mahmoud Moussa (Egypt, 1913-2003) is generally regarded as the artistic successor to the great Mahmoud Mokhtar. He was a pioneering artist of the second generation, beginning his artistic career when, in 1931, he joined evening classes run by the Amateurs Society, then under the direction of Mahmoud Said, and received further training from Mahmoud Mokhtar, which contributed to the development of the signature Pharonic revival style which is the hallmark of some of the most celebrated examples of twentieth century Egyptian sculpture. 

Moussa's artistic skill and aesthetic sensibilities came from his experience with sculpting marble gravestones, demonstrated in his ability to work on a shallow surface, and his deftness in imbuing his figures with a unique expressiveness, grace and austerity evident in the president composition. 

He became a member of the teaching staff at the sculpture department of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria, in 1957. He participated in several group exhibitions in Cairo and Alexandria including several appearances at the Alexandria Biennale, including winning the prize for sculpture in Alexandria Biennale in 1955.

Mahmoud Moussa (Egypt, 1913-2003) The Family
Mahmoud Moussa (Egypt, 1913-2003)
The Family 
signed in Arabic (on corner of base), executed circa 1975
80 x 38cm (31 1/2 x 14 15/16in).

Painstakingly carved out of a monolithic block of Egyptian marble, and exhibiting the majesty, mystique and visual grandeur of ancient Pharonic statuary, "The Family" is a fitting testament to a sculptural legacy which stretches back over five thousand years. 

Mahmoud Moussa (Egypt, 1913-2003)
The Family II 
black marble
executed in 1981
Height: 51 cm

Hamed Owais (Egypt, 1919-2011) The Harvest (Al-Hasadh)
Hamed Owais (Egypt, 1919-2011)
The Harvest (Al-Hasadh) 
oil on canvas, framed
signed "Owais 2009" (lower left), executed in 2009
40 x 54cm (15 3/4 x 21 1/4in)

Oil on canvas by Hamed Owais, one of the pioneers of Egyptian Modernism, and perhaps the sole exponent of social realism in twentieth century Egyptian Art. 

Hamed Owais (Egypt, 1919-2011) was born into a peasant family in the small village of Kafr Mansour in the governorate of Beni Soueif. There, he received his primary and secondary education before working as a metalworker. He soon realized he was not fit for this profession and moved to Cairo, where he joined the School of Fine Arts. After he graduated in 1944, he pursued his studies at the Institute of Art Education in Cairo, where he was trained by the pedagogue and critic Youssef el-Afifi. He received his diploma in 1946 and in the following year, he founded the Group of Modern Art, together with other artists of his generation, such as Gamal el-Sigini, Gazbia Sirry, Zeinab Abdel Hamid, Salah Yousri and Youssef Sida.

From 1948 to 1955, Owais worked as a drawing teacher in the Farouk Ist Secondary School in Alexandria. He traveled to Italy in 1952 and visited the Venice Biennale where the works of Italian Social Realist artists were being exhibited. In 1958, he was appointed a professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria just after it was founded by the sculptor Ahmad Osman (1907 - 1970). In 1967, Owais received a scholarship to continue his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid where he received his diploma in 1969. From 1977 to 1979, he served as the head of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Alexandria. He died in Cairo in 2011, at the age of ninety-two.

Ahmed Sabry (Egypt, 1889-1995) Nude on the Beach
Ahmed Sabry (Egypt, 1889-1995)
Nude on the Beach 
oil on canvas, framed
executed circa 1950
40 x 60cm (15 3/4 x 23 5/8in).

Ahmed Sabry (Egypt, 1889-1995), Born  in the Megharbeleen neighborhood of Cairo's Darb el-Ahmar district, Sabry suffered from a tormented upbringing, moving house frequently after being orphaned at an early age. In 1911, he joined the Fine Arts School and was sent to Paris in 1919 where he joined the Grande Chaumiere Academie, then the Academie Julienne.

When he returned to Egypt, he worked as an illustrator with the Entomology Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, then as an artist with the Ministry of Public Works, which sent him on a further scholarship to Paris; there, he exhibited his painting "The Nun" in the Grand Palais in 1929, and was awarded the Prix d'Honneur by the French Arts Society. Upon his return to Cairo in 1929, he took up work as a teacher at the Higher School for Fine Arts until 1951.

Sabry was a renowned teacher and fostered the talents of numerous Egyptian masters such as Hussein Bicar, Salah Taher, and Hamed Owais. Sabry is considered a pioneer of classic easel portraiture, and his portraits are considered some of the most technically exquisite and stylistically elegant examples of Egyptian portrait painting.

Ahmed Sabry, Meditation or The Nun (c. 1929)
Ahmed Sabry (Egypt, 1889-1995)
Meditation or The Nun (c. 1929)

For years, the family of modern portrait painter Ahmed Sabry (1889-1955) and the management of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum of Modern Art (EMMA) have been assuming the loss or theft of Sabry’s masterpiece The Nun (1929), or as originally titled, Meditations. Because of the archaic, if not absent, loan tracking system at the museum and the lack of communication between ministries, The Nun’s location was a mystery. It is now confirmed that Sabry’s painting hangs at the residence of the permanent representative of the Egyptian mission to the United States in New York. More

Painted in 1920 by Ahmed Sabry and acquired by the Museum of Egyptian Modern Art in 1929 for LE 75, is currently estimated at LE75 million, the painting's original title is "Meditation" or "Ta2amolat" as named by the artist. More

Georges Hanna Sabbagh (Egypt, 1877-1951) Banyan Tree
Georges Hanna Sabbagh (Egypt, 1877-1951)
Banyan Tree 
oil on canvas, framed
signed "G.H Sabbagh 1938" (lower left)
60 x 73cm (23 5/8 x 28 3/4in)

"Banyan Tree" is one of Sabbagh's most refined and technically accomplished compositions. Enigmatic and mysterious, the Banyan Tree is a seminal symbol in Asian and ancient Egyptian Religion. The Banyan or "Ficus benghalensis" is a which tree starts by wrapping itself around a host tree before plunging roots into the ground; sprawling, cavernous and complex the Banyan is a striking and captivating force of nature. 

Georges Hanna Sabbagh (Egypt, 1877-1951) was born at Alexandria in Egypt. He studied art in Paris, being the first Egyptian at the Louvre School. It can be said that he was attached to the artists of the Paris School - he worked beside Amedeo Modigliani - but he always refused to be considered one of them, keeping his independence and freedom.

His family and the region of Brittany provided him with subjects for many of his paintings, before trips to Egypt led him to rediscover the lights, landscapes and characters of his childhood. He excelled in portraits, nudes and landscapes both in France and in Egypt and was enchanted by the old districts of Cairo. A painter of talent, Georges Sabbagh forms one of the group of artists who Jean Cassou called "the sacrificed generation" (along with Henri de Waroquier and Jules-Émile Zingg) - absorbing the school of Les Nabis, Fauvism and Cubism at the beginning of the century, but forgotten after the Second World War. Cassou describes him as a "cordial and deeply human painter". He was able to create in the end of his career a new attitude towards realism.

Sabbagh obtained French citizenship in 1930, so may be rightly considered both an Egyptian and a French painter.

He served in the British Army in the First World War. In 1916 he married the art historian Agnès Humbert, by whom he had two children: the television producer and director Pierre Sabbagh, and the sub-mariner and advisor to General Charles de Gaulle, Jean Sabbagh. 

Georges Hanna Sabbagh (Egypt, 1877-1951) Still Life
Georges Hanna Sabbagh (Egypt, 1877-1951)
Still Life 
oil on board, framed
signed and dated "1917" in English (top right)
33 x 41cm (13 x 16 1/8in).

Hussein Bicar (Egypt, 1913-2002) Fellaha in Aswan
Hussein Bicar (Egypt, 1913-2002)
Fellaha in Aswan 
oil on board
signed lower left, executed circa 1980's
43 x 54cm (16 15/16 x 21 1/4in)

Hussein Bicar (Egypt, 1913-2002). Born in 1913 in Alexandria, Egypt, He graduated from Fine Arts College in 1933, and subsequently from the Ahlia School for Painting. He taught at, and eventually headed the Painting Department of the Faculty of Arts at Qena at 1955. He was a founder of the Helwan Wax Museum.

In 1944, Bikar began his career in journalism when he became, with Ahmad Sabry, Mustapha Amin and Ali Amin, one of the founding fathers of the prestigious Akhbar el-Youm newspaper, doing drawings often accompanied by his own poetrys. His painting "The Eighth Wonder", (see below), depicting the transportation of the temple of Ramses II to Abu Simbel is widely regarded as a classic of modern Egyptian painting.

Bikar was honored with several awards including, the Golden Medal of Honor from the Industrial and Agriculture Exhibition in 1949, the Medal of Arts and Science in 1967, Gamal Abdel Nasser Prize in 1975, the State of Merit Award in 1978, the Merit Medal in 1980, and shortly before his death in 2000, Mubarak Award.

Hussein Bicar from 
"The Eighth Wonder"

Hussein Bicar from 
"The Eighth Wonder"

Hussein Bicar (Egypt, 1913-2002) Nubian Woman and Goat
Hussein Bicar (Egypt, 1913-2002)
Nubian Woman and Goat 
oil on canvas
signed "Bicar 1995" (lower left), executed in 1995
29 x 49cm (11 7/16 x 19 5/16in)

Hassan el Glaoui (Morocco, born 1924) Horses
Hassan el Glaoui (Morocco, born 1924)
oil on board, framed
signed (lower right)
76 x 105cm (29 15/16 x 41 5/16in).

Despite opposition from his father, a powerful pasha named Thami, El Glaoui began painting in his teens and, following art education in France, he held his first show in 1952 in Paris. He then returned to Morocco in 1965, concentrating on painting horses.

El Glaoui regards his work as a “living mirror of the past and the traditions which are still the essence of the Moroccan spirit”. “My love of my country has been the defining spirit of my painting. I have recorded our ancestral roots, the flowers in the Valley of the Kasbah and the red Cherifian palaces, the royal courteges with their long lines of white burnouses and the mounted cavalry and their horses,” El Glaoui said in an interview carried by Yacout in 2009. More

Hassan el Glaoui NÉ EN 1924 À MARRAKECH, ÉCOLE MAROCAINE FANTASIA BLEUE HASSAN EL GLAOUI ; BLUE FANTASIA ; SIGNED LOWER RIGHT ; GOUACHE ON PAPER Signé en bas à droite Hassan el Glaoui Gouache sur papier 48,5 x 63,5 cm ; 19 by 25 in:
Hassan el Glaoui (Morocco, born 1924)
Signed lower right Hassan el Glaoui
gouache on paper 
48.5 x 63.5 cm; 19 by 25 in

Hassan el Glaoui (Morocco, born 1924)
Signed lower right Hassan el Glaoui
gouache on paper 
48.5 x 63.5 cm; 19 by 25 in

Hassan el Glaoui (Morocco, born 1924)
Signed lower right Hassan el Glaoui
gouache on paper 
48.5 x 63.5 cm; 19 by 25 in

Nazir Khalil (Egypt, 1916-2001) View of Cairo
Nazir Khalil (Egypt, 1916-2001)
View of Cairo 
oil on canvas
50 x 60cm (19 11/16 x 23 5/8in).

Hamed Nada (Egypt, 1924-1990) Untitled
Hamed Nada (Egypt, 1924-1990)
oil on canvas, framed
executed circa 1960's
64 x 45cm (25 3/16 x 17 11/16in).

Hamed Nada (Egypt, 1924-1990). The son of a religious sheikh, Hamed Nada was brought up in an old Arabic house in the poor traditional neighbourhood of Al-Khalifa near the Syeda Skina Mosque in Cairo. Around him the young Nada experienced all the life and vibrancy of the old city, rich in crumbling medieval Mamluk buildings and gracious Ottoman-era monuments.

From the mid-1950s onwards Hamed Nada's style underwent major changes. He began to look at the work of Ragheb Ayad, from the first generation of Egyptian pioneer artists, who had reinterpreted pharaonic art in his portrayals of ordinary Egyptians. Also for inspiration Nada looked to Nubian folk art and African primitive art. This helps to explain Nada's comments about the effects of Ayad's art on his:

Nada started to use bright resonant colours, and the previous heaviness of his compositions evaporated. The figures, both human and animal, elongated and stylized, began to float around the pictorial space. Michievious and vivacious, the figures seemed to take on a life of their own. Thus Africanized, the figures in Nada's paintings became akin to hieroglyphs, generalized symbols rather than particularized personages. As Nada suffered gradual loss of hearing in the 1980s, to compensate the colours, gestures and violent movements of the figures became ever more extreme, leaving one with the impression of almost being able to hear the commotion going on in his paintings. More

Hamed Nada (Egyptian 1924 - 1990) 
Henna Eve 
signed and dated 'H. Nada 1988' and signed and dated in Arabic (lower right)
oil and pencil on canvas laid down on panel 
47 x 43¼in. (120 x 110cm.) 
Executed in 1988 

Marguerite Nakhla (Egypt, 1908-1977) View of Paris
Marguerite Nakhla (Egypt, 1908-1977)
View of Paris 
oil on canvas, framed
signed "M.Nakhla 1948 Paris", executed in 1948
60 x 80cm (23 5/8 x 31 1/2in).

Margaret Nakhla was a modern Egyptian painter (1908–1977); born in Alexandria, studied art in France specialising in oil painting. She received her teaching Diploma in 1939, then studied the art of wall painting at the École du Louvre in 1951. She taught at the Institute of Fine Arts for Girls, Egypt. She lived in Alexandria, Paris, Cairo and Port Said.

Marguerite Nakhla (Egypt, 1908-1977)
Village Market
oil on canvas, framed
80x60 cm

Tahia Halim (Egypt, 1919-2003) Ella Al-Souq Fi Al-Nuba (to the market place in Nubia)
Tahia Halim (Egypt, 1919-2003)
Ella Al-Souq Fi Al-Nuba (to the market place in Nubia) 
oil on board, framed
signed "T.Halim" (lower left), executed circa 1960's
50 x 50cm (19 11/16 x 19 11/16in).

Tahia Halim (Egypt, 1919-2003)  was an Egyptian painter. Tahia Halim is one of the pioneers of the Modern Expressive Movement in Egyptian Art in the 1960s, where she excelled in expressing the Egyptian character’s idiosyncrasies in her works. She has many works concerning the Nile, boats and the popular and national subjects for which she has been granted several honorary awards in Egypt and abroad.

Tahia studied art under important drawing teachers as the Lebanese painter Yussef Trabelsi and the Greek artist Gerom; then under the Egyptian artist Hamed Abdullah at his studio 1943, and after their marriage, in 1945, they left for Paris to join Julian Academy (1949-1951). Returning to Egypt, they taught together art in their private studio, in Down Town (near Tahrir Square) in Cairo. Tahia Halim received two devotion scholarships of Art Production in 1960 and in 1975. More

Tahia Halim (Egyptian, 1919-2003) 
Farhat Al Nuba (The Happiness of Nubia) 
signed and dated 'T. Halim 1965' (lower right); titled and inscribed in Arabic (on the reverse)
oil and gold leaf on canvas 
51 1/8 x 99in. (130 x 251.5cm.) 
Painted in 1965 

Inji Efflatoun (Egypt, 1924-1984) Boats on the Nile
Inji Efflatoun (Egypt, 1924-1984)
Boats on the Nile 
oil on board
signed and dated "84" (lower left), executed in 1984
32 x 58cm (12 5/8 x 22 13/16in).

Inji Aflatoun (1924–1989) was an Egyptian painter and activist in the women's movement. She was a "leading spokesman for the Marxist-progressive-nationalist-feminist spokeswoman in the late 1940s and 1950s", as well as a "pioneer of modern Egyptian art" and "one of the important Egyptian visual artists"

During school, Aflatoun liked to paint and her parents encouraged her. Her private art tutor, Kamel al-Timisani, a leader in an Egyptian Surrealist collective called the Art and Freedom Group, introduced her to surrealist and cubist aesthetics. Her paintings of that period are influenced by surrealism. She later recalled that people were astonished by her paintings and wondered "why a girl from a rich family was so tormented". She stopped painting from 1946 to 1948, considering that what she was painting no longer corresponded to her feelings. Her interest was later renewed after visiting Luxor, Nubia, and the Egyptian oases. During these trips, she had the opportunity to "penetrate the houses and sketch men and women at work". She studied for a year with the Egyptian-born Swiss artist Margo Veillon  During this period, she made individual exhibits in Cairo and Alexandria and showed at the Venice Biennale in 1952 and the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1956.  In 1956 she became friends with and was later influenced by the Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros. 

Inji Efflatoun (Egypt, 1924-1984)
In the Woman’s Prison
 Oil on wood
58x52 Cm
Signed and dated - 1960
"from the period of the prison"

She was arrested and secretly imprisoned during Nasser's roundup of communists in 1959. After her release in 1963, Egypt's Communist party having been dissolved, she devoted most of her time to painting. She later declared: "Nasser, although he put me in prison, was a good patriot."She was able to continue painting during her imprisonment. Her early prison paintings are portraits, while the later are landscapes. In the years after her liberation, she exhibited in Rome and Paris in 1967, Dresden, East Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow in 1970, Sofia in 1974, Prague in 1975, New Delhi in 1979. Her paintings are filled with "lively brushstrokes of intense color" reminding some observers of Van Gogh or Bonnard. Her art of later years is characterised by an increasing use of large white spaces around her forms. A collection of her works is displayed at the Amir Taz Palace in Cairo. More

Shirin Neshat (Iran, born 1957) The Last Words
Shirin Neshat (Iran, born 1957)
The Last Words 
cibachrome print, framed
signed, dated "2003", and numbered edition 2 of 5 (on the verso)
40 x 76cm (15 3/4 x 29 15/16in).

Shirin Neshat (Iran, born 1957) Fervor Series
Shirin Neshat (Iran, born 1957)
Fervor Series Couple at Intersection, from Fervor series, 2000
Three-part gelatin silver prints, each signed, titled, dated and numbered 7/10 in pencil on the verso of each.
17 7/8 x 22 1/4in each

Shirin Neshat (born March 26, 1957) is an Iranian visual artist who lives in New York City. She is known primarily for her work in film, video and photography She is the fourth of five children of wealthy parents, brought up in the religious town of Qazvin in north-western Iran. Neshat's father was a physician and her mother a homemaker. Neshat said that her father, "fantasized about the west, romanticized the west, and slowly rejected all of his own values; both my parents did. What happened, I think, was that their identity slowly dissolved, they exchanged it for comfort. It served their class”. As a part of Neshat’s “Westernization” she was enrolled in a Catholic boarding school in Tehran. Through her father’s acceptance of Western ideologies came an acceptance of a form of western feminism. Neshat’s father encouraged each of his daughters to “be an individual, to take risks, to learn, to see the world", and he sent his daughters as well as his sons to college to receive their higher education.[4] Through her grandparents, her mother's parents, Neshat learned traditional religious values. More

Miloud Boukerche (Algeria, 1908-1978) Portrait of an Arab Man
Miloud Boukerche (Algeria, 1908-1978)
Portrait of an Arab Man 
oil on board, framed
signed "Boukerche" (lower right)
21 x 26cm (8 1/4 x 10 1/4in).

If you have enjoyed this post, please share!

Acknowledgement: Bonhams New Bond Street