Damien Hirst Demonstrates The Butterfly Effect In The Middle East

A work of art by the best known YBA artist Damien Hirst  is to be offered for sale at Sotheby’s in Doha, Qatar, on 13th October 2014. Carrying a price estimate of  $1,000,000–1,500,000 ‘Tranquility’ explores the subject of the struggle between life and death. Hirst’s butterfly works are described by the auction house as ‘a testament to his ability to celebrate the complexities of the human experience by combining his most famous concepts into one canvas’.  The work is constructed and executed using thousands of dead butterflies. It captures the manifestation of the most subliminal fear in human existence: that of death. Like the beating of butterfly wings, the canvas breathes life into the room. The title evokes both the tranquil state that is produced by being in the presence of such beauty as well as the state of the butterflies themselves, says the auction house cataloguer.

Sotheby’s auction of Contemporary art by both Middle Eastern and International artists in Doha will preview in their New Bond Street galleries in London from 22nd July until 22nd August 2014. Following last year’s record-breaking sale of Arab and Iranian and International Contemporary Art in Doha – in which nine artist records were achieved – this year’s sale features artworks of the highest calibre that corresponds to the demand from both Middle Eastern and International collectors. Works on view include an outstanding work by internationally acclaimed artist Damien Hirst, together with sought-after masterpieces by some of today’s most celebrated artists from the region, including Ali Banisadr, Ayman Baalbaki and Monir Farmanfarmaian.

Lina Lazaar, Sotheby’s International Contemporary Art Specialist said: “This carefully curated exhibition and sale showcases the diversity of the artistic styles that Middle Eastern artists are working in today, alongside signature pieces by world-renowned international artists including Damien Hirst. The artists represented are some of the most talented and exciting of their generation, some of whom haven’t been presented on an international platform before but we believe will be highly sought after in the years to come. The public exhibition of these works will make a distinct contribution to the exhilarating international arts scene in the destinations in which we are holding our pre-sale exhibitions – from Jeddah to Dubai and now London from 22nd July until 22nd August, and then on to New York in September, prior to the sale in Doha on 13th October 2014.”

Aileen Agopian, Sotheby’s International Contemporary Art Specialist said: “For our forthcoming auction in Doha we have sourced supreme examples of works by well-established and internationally recognised artists. We have created a sale in which the works speak for themselves as much as they engage with each other – international artists with their Middle Eastern counterparts. This selection of works will not only speak to art lovers and collectors but challenge them and expose them to new artists and forms of art that they may not be familiar with.”

Internationally acclaimed and highly sought-after artist Ali Banisadr was born in Iran in 1976 and his work is heavily influenced by his childhood experiences as a refugee of the Iran-Iraq war. His work is dominated by large-scale fantastical abstract landscapes that convey something of the chaotic violence he witnessed as a child. Drawing on both Eastern and Western artistic traditions, Banisadr’s work recalls both the startling complexity of Persian miniatures and the wide-ranging landscapes of the Flemish Old Masters. The effect of this technique is vividly rendered in his outstanding painting The Chase (est. $180,000-250,000), where the juxtaposition of meticulous detail with looser brushstrokes creates a mesmerizing whole that draws the viewer in to Banisadr’s complex and deeply personal world.

Al Sharq al Awsat (est. $60,000 – 80,000) is a prime example of the extraordinary way in which the Lebanese artist Ayman Baalbaki remembers and depicts Lebanon’s traumatic, war-stricken history. Born in 1970, the year the Lebanese civil war began, Baalbaki has been a witness to numerous brutal, war-inflicted years in Beirut. Many of the artist’s traumatic experiences have, unsurprisingly, provided the inspiration and subjects behind his most powerful work. In a personal testimony to his country’s dark past, Baalbaki aspires to break through the “amnesia” his country adopted after the civil war. Emphasising the powerful imagery of his work are the ravishing colours the artist applies in thick ridges of paint and the juxtaposition of these expressive brushstrokes with floral textiles. Much like the plane which is depicted – a wreck from the bombing of The Beirut International Airport in 1976 which was left exposed to the public eyes as a martyrdom piece – this work makes one reflect on and remember the atrocities of war.

Three Brothers (est. $70,000–100,000) is an infusion of classical Persian Art and Iran’s traditional crafts techniques with the unique and modern aesthetic of Monir Farmanfarmaian, a pioneer within the contemporary Iranian art world and one of the most important and established Middle Eastern female artists. A source of great inspiration and reverence for the current generation of Middle Eastern artists, Farmanfarmaian’s artwork draws inspiration from classical Iranian culture and tradition. Her unique blend of traditional and avant-garde creates an elegantly distinctive style as in this exemplary work where the artist has readapted reverse-glass painting, Khatam kari (inlaid marquetry) and Aineh-kari (mirror mosaics) – both defining decorative features of Persian stately homes and palaces – to create a breathtakingly modern geometric mirror triptych. Farmanfarmaian constructs a uniquely modern and refined aesthetic by combining traditional Islamic craftsmanship with a highly contemporary delivery, creating an explosion of kaleidoscopic visual harmony.

The elegantly fluid movement strikingly apparent within Blue Wave (est. $70,000–100,000) has the distinct skill and uniqueness of the internationally acclaimed master of calligraphy, Nasrollah Afjei. By constantly challenging the preconceived boundaries of calligraphy through trial and experimentation, Afjei creates flawlessly fresh work. Practising for over 27 years, Afjei believes calligraphy offers a universal language which does not necessarily have to be read to be understood, the energy which encompasses his works are universally communicative and emotive. Appealing to primal emotions his works are applicable to all audiences. Afjei utilises the written word, like an engineer; the angles in his scripts are precisely thought-out to create a complex myriad of various shapes.

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