26 Apr 2009 22:22
Iran's booming art scene
By GOLNOUSH NIKNEJAD in Dubai
[The National] Apr 30, 2008
Sandy Heller, a private curator from New York, gazes at The Wall (Oh Persepolis) by the Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli.
"It is stunning, monumental," he says. "I expect it to sell for a record - over US1$ million [Dh3.7m]."
The bronze sculpture in black and gold was created by Tanavoli in 1975 and is the highlight of a major auction by Christie's Dubai tonight. Iranian artists will feature strongly at the auction.
Experts predicted the sale could net well over Dh35m (US$9.5m), with Tanavol and another Iranian artist, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, expected to attract the biggest bids, reflecting the growth of international collectors' interest in the region.
About 40 per cent of the lots are Iranian, most of them from the 20th century.
"That is a rarity, because that art is not being produced any more," said William Lawrie, a specialist in modern and contemporary Arab and Iranian art with Christie's.
"When we started, the market was divided," said Mr Lawrie. "Iranians collected Iranian art, and Arabs were interested in Arab artists. But it's merging together right now. We have Iranians asking about which Arab painters to get and vice versa. It's a significant new development."
Oh Persepolis is adorned with stick-like subjects paying homage to Persian emperors.
The sculpture, from the collection of the Pasargard Bank of Iran is 181cm high, 102cm wide and 23cm deep.
"The figures resemble cuneiform on tablets, but they look like robots at the same time," said Mr Lawrie.
Mr Heller, a consultant for the Heller Group who advises wealthy art collectors, described himself as "a student of the region and its art."
"I'm interested because every culture has its creative process and every great culture has an even greater physical manifestation of that creative process.
"I'm optimistic that in my lifetime, I'll bear witness to a number of those great fruits. We're living in an amazing time and there is great creativity to be explored here. To that end, I think some of the most interesting art work I've seen in a long time is coming from the Middle East. I watch with great enthusiasm."
Aria Eghbal, an artist from the Mahe Mehr Art Education Institute in Iran, was among the people perusing the Christie's collection at the Emirates Towers hotel yesterday.
"We're very sensitive to what happens," she said, referring to the auction. "Every Iranian is very sensitive about anything that happens with respect to Iran in the world, whether it's art or something else."
Paintings inspired by calligraphy are expected to be among the more popular items at the auction. The most important is a piece by Zenderoudi entitled VAV + HWE, in concentric rings of red, black and white.
Although the piece is estimated at between $400,000 and $600,000, it is expected to fetch a much higher price.
Tomorrow's sale is the fourth put on by Christie's Dubai, which has become the centre of the Middle Eastern art market.
Christie's catalogue also features Mohammed Ehsai's He is the Merciful, a Farsi calligraphy in green that is expected to fetch about $140,000.
Iranian art sets records
By GOLNOUSH NIKNEJAD in Dubai
[The National] May 01, 2008
Iranian works fetched record prices on the final day of Christie's Dubai auction of Middle Eastern and western art. Top price - a world record for a work by any modern Middle Eastern artist - was paid for Parviz Tanavoli's sculpture The Wall (Oh Persepolis) which sold for US$2.8 million (Dh10.4m).
The large bronze tablet in gold and black with futuristic robot-like figures pays tribute to the glories of the ancient Persian empire.
The price was also the highest paid for any piece sold by Christie's in the Middle East, including jewellery and other artefacts.
The works sold on Wednesday evening, the last day of the sale, netted US$20m and boosted the total for the weeklong auction to a record-breaking US$40.1m.
The auction, the fourth mounted by Christie's in Dubai, was dominated by Iranian works that took most of the top ten prices paid.
Charles Hossein Zenderoudi's painting Tchaar-Bagh fetched US$1.6m, a world record price for an Iranian painting at auction. Two of the other seven Zenderoudi paintings also made the top ten: VAV + HWE, an acrylic on canvas, went for US$601,000; and Linthal-Manama brought in US$421,000.
Mohammed Ehsai's He is the Merciful also broke the million-dollar mark, bringing in US$1.16m, tying with Robert Indiana's, LOVE.
Farhad Moshiri's I Love You Until Eternity was also in the top ten. It brought in US$769,000. Moshiri held the previous record for the highest amount paid for a Middle Eastern artist at Bonhams' inaugural Middle East auction.
Iranian collectors at the Christie's auction were jubilant.
Farbod Dowlatshahi, who bought several pieces, said Zenderoudi was a fabulous artist whose work was rapidly rising in value.
"He's really one of the treasures of our country," he said. "It's not about the price. The issue is that you had a few bidders who wanted the best piece from a fabulous artist."
Mr Dowlatshahi said a Zenderoudi painting he bought six months ago for US$500,000 had already tripled in value.
In the Iranian art world, a growing number of buyers were training their eyes on a growing number of artists.
"You have the established artists and the new kids on the block coming in creating exceptional work," he said.
Amir Gheissari, another private collector from Iran who bought six pieces, said art and cinema had boomed in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution for reasons that included "contradictions in society, and the limitations put on artists."
"There's been an explosion of talent in Iran since the revolution."
Mr Gheissari said Iranian artists had been undervalued for a long time, but there was a lot of money in Iran and for wealthy Iranians, buying art was partly a business investment "and the other part is interest in the potential of Iranian artists."
Works by Iranian artists from the 1960s and 1970s were also very much in demand, he said.
"Those artists had a tendency to mix painting with calligraphy, which is very important and very popular with Arab buyers. There is a big demand for them in this part of the region.
"In my opinion Iranian painting spans a vaster array than just calligraphy. But there are demands on the market, an emphasis on that kind of Iranian art. We'll see it spread to other areas, to new figurative artists."
|76||Parviz Tanavoli, The Wall (Oh Persepolis), 1975WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR THE ARTIST AT AUCTION
WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR ANY MODERN IRANIAN ARTIST
|59||Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Tchaar-Bagh, 1981WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR THE ARTIST AT AUCTION
WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR ANY MODERN IRANIAN PAINTING
|100||Mohammed Ehsai, He is the Merciful, 2007WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST||US100,000-150,000||$1,161,000AED4,260,870
|136||Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1966-1999||US$1,000,000-1,500,000||$1,161,000AED4,260,870
|158||Farhad Moshiri, I Love You Until Eternity, 2007-08||US$200,000-250,000||$769,000AED2,822,230
|57||Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, VAV + HWE, 1972||US$400,000-600,000||$601,000AED2,205,670
|60||Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, Linthal-Manama, 1990||US$250,000-300,000||$421,000AED1,545,070
|70||Ahmed Moustafa, Meditations on the first three themes from Sura Ya' Sin, 2006||US$350,000-400,000||$421,000AED1,545,070
|67||Abdul Kadir Al-Rais, Bishra (Announcement), 2007-08WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST||US$150,000-250,000||$385,000AED1,142,950
|99||Faramarz Pilaram, Untitled, 1972WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST||US$100,000-150,000||$385,000AED1,142,950