Art has that magical ability to enrich and enhance our lives. Don’t believe me? Go and visit the luminaries of contemporary art going up on the auction block and see the transformation!
Back with a bang, JAMM, an independent strategic art advisory, kicked off its 3rd annual auction in Kuwait on 29 November 2012 at the Contemporary Art Platform in Kuwait with pre-sale viewing on 28 November 2012.
The auction is a clear indication that art awareness has broadened in Kuwait. Driven by rising affluence and petro dinars, there is a definite upswing in interest in buying art. Local galleries like Dar Al Funoon, Sultan Gallery and Boushahri have been cultivating and fuelling the love for visual art amongst the discerning audiences in Kuwait.
Last year, the auction sales at JAMM’s second edition of contemporary Arab and Iranian Art, held in February 2011, fetched a staggering $774,785, as reported on their website.
This year, over 63 eclectic works in a variety of media by contemporary Arab, Iranian and international artists, will be auctioned with the majority of lots estimated under $10,000, providing an opportunity for young collectors to start or to add to their collections of contemporary art.
Garden Party, 2011, by acclaimed Iranian painter, musician and performance artist Reza Derakshani is expected to be one of the most desired pieces to be sold at the auction. Spectacularly rendered, the large oil painting in vibrant shades of red and pink is estimated to fetch $65,000–$95,000.
Other JAMM highlights include Amira Behbehani’s recent oil painting Study of Francis Bacon (Men in Blue). Inspired by a series of 7 deep-blue canvases that the British artist painted in 1954, this work seeks to engage a debate on the political and religious views of wearing the Abayya and is expected to fetch $9,000–$10,500.
The captivating work of Iran-born artist, Shiva Ahmadi, whose Brown Veil, is a mixed media work on aquabord, is expected to go for $17,000–$18,500 while Golnaz Fathi’s untitled piece, an intense diptych masterfully combining Arabic calligraphy and strong brushstrokes, is estimated at $17,000– $18,500.
Another interesting auction highlight is a hand painted photograph of the glamorous Egyptian belly dancer Fifi Abdou by Youssef Nabil, entitled Fifi Smoking. Its estimated sale price is $15,000–$16,500.
Meanwhile, Lalla Essaydi (Morocco), Takashi Murakani (Japan), Farideh Lashai (Iran) and Simeen Farhat (Pakistan) are other noteworthy artists at the auction. Farhat’s works, Twisted Melody, 2010, Intent, 2011, and Red Spill, 2012, are estimated at $12,000–$13,500 and $8,500–$10,000 respectively.
Other notable offerings that go under the hammer are Leila Pazooki (who mainly works with digital media), Shurooq Amin , and Mohammed Rahimi.
TAG Heuer, one of the finest brands in the luxury watch industry, is the exclusive sponsor for the auction.
Q and Art with Sheikha Lulu Al Sabah
Sheikha Lulu Al Sabah, a leading art connoisseur, an avid art collector, art journalist and founding partner of JAMM shares her thoughts on the upcoming auction with bazaar.
This marks the third edition of JAMM Art Auction. How is it different?
It is different in many ways. I have been far more selective with the artworks, which makes this auction much stronger in terms of quality. I have selected a wide variety of styles and mediums so that there is something for everybody. The vast majority of works are by Arab or Iranian artists. I have a total of 6 works by international artists.
Who will be conducting the art auction?
Alexander Gilkes, former global marketing director and auctioneer for Phillips de Pury and co-founder of Paddle8, will conduct the auction.
What does it mean for Kuwait to host internationally acclaimed artists?
Kuwait still has a small community of art collectors but their tastes are very sophisticated so I felt it was important to include internationally acclaimed artists. It is great for Kuwait.
How is the art market in Kuwait, as compared to say Abu Dhabi or Qatar?
The art market in Kuwait is an emerging one with an underdeveloped infrastructure and we believed that an art auction was an excellent way to help it grow. Having a strong market is necessary to promote art and artists. Moreover, Middle Eastern collectors prefer buying art in auctions for a number of reasons: there is more variety, it is a more simple and less time-consuming way of acquiring works of art, they also feel that they are buying art at a fair, “market” value.
It is interesting to see some prominent Japanese and Chinese artists debuting at the auction. Does that mean there is a surge for Asian artists, besides the usual Iranian artists who rule the roost?
Absolutely! Next year I hope to include works by artists from Central Asia as that is a new, emerging market.
There are a large number of women artists being represented at the auction. Who are some of the rising stars?
The rising stars include Amira Behbehani, Simeen Farhat, Jowhara Al Saud and Shiva Ahmadi.
Amongst the diverse offerings, whose works are you most excited to have at this year’s auction?
I am very excited to have the last edition of Farideh Lashai’s video projection on Canvas entitled El Amal. The work is a commentary on power of art, its grandiose and eternal character, and how it influences identity of nations.
The work was made by using 2500 still images that were cut from The Great Dictator and animating a photograph of Um Kalthoum taken from the Internet to sync her lip movement to her song “El Amal”.
In your opinion, which artwork is one of the top lots of the upcoming auction? What are some of the highlights?
Some of the auction highlights include Youssef Nabil’s portrait of the Egyptian actress and belly dancer Fifi Abdou (Fifi Smoking, Cairo 2000). It is a beautiful print that the artist colored by hand – a technique that recalls old hand-colored family portraits one can still see in people’s living rooms in Cairo.
Al Braithwaite’s Hearts & Minds, 2012, is an intricate piece consisting of nine ‘heart-grenades,’ each having at its core a measure of soil drawn from sites of contemporary geopolitical significance such as Helmand, Cairo and Manhattan and acting as a receptacle for the history of these places.
Mashrabia Cabana, 2011, a 4 x 4 x 4 meter cabana inspired by traditional mashrabiyas, by Swiss architect and designer André C. Meyerhans blurs the boundaries between art, design and architecture.
Garden Party, by acclaimed Iranian painter, musician and performance artist Reza Derakshani is a large (182 x 304 cm) oil painting in vibrant shades of red and pink executed in 2011. Derakshani’s luminous colors and complex compositions footnote miniature paintings.
There is also a unique print of Marilyn Monroe from Bert Stern’s Last Sitting with hand applied semi-precious stones.
There is a general perception that art auctions are for the rich and discerning. Is there anything for buyers with modest budget?
There certainly is. We have 5 works under KD 1,000 ($3,500). The majority of the works are under KD 4,200 ($15,000). I will always include a wide price range so that buyers with modest budgets can also participate.
How can you encourage young and nouveau art buyers? What would be your advice to the young generation of collectors?
To train your eye, it is important to see as much art as possible. Visit art galleries, art fairs and view art via the Internet.
As one of the finest cultural ambassadors of this region, you have helped to bridge the Middle East with the rest of the world, what are your final thoughts?
We try to advance and promote Middle Eastern artists in the West (we organized a group show of Arab and Iranian art in London two years ago) and bring Western, but also Asian, South American and African artists to the Gulf. Geographically and historically, the Middle East has always acted as a bridge between the West and the East, yet it has been the locus of several major conflicts in recent history. Whilst art is certainly not omnipotent and cannot resolve alone these conflicts, it can contribute to furthering mutual understanding and collaboration.
Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) is situated in Industrial Shuwaikh, Block 2, Street 28. For more information about the auction please visit: www.jamm-art.org.