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Exploring Cultural Frontiers, Sotheby's Modern & Contemporary Middle East Auction

Sotheby's hosts its semiannual Modern & Contemporary Middle East auction from April 11th to April 25th, featuring modernist and avant-garde artists from North Africa, Turkey, Iran, and the Middle East. Highlights include early works by Fahrelnissa Zeid, pieces by Saudi pioneers Abdulhalim Radwi and Taha Al Sabban, and contributions from Egyptian female artists like Inji Efflatoun and Gazbia Sirry. Lebanese artworks by Etel Adnan, Huguette Caland, and a rediscovered painting by Shafic Abboud are showcased alongside works by North African artists such as Baya Mahieddine and Mohammed Melehi.

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Fahrelnissa Zeid

‘Untitled (View from the Artist's studio onto Tesvikiye Caddesi)’

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Abdulhalim Radwi

Sotheby's highlights Radwi's fusion of popular culture with artistic innovation, a precursor to contemporary Saudi art. Trained in Rome during the 1960s, he embraced abstraction while staying rooted in his Arab heritage. Radwi's later works blend tradition with modernity, delving into cultural identity. This piece, depicts old Saudi neighborhoods with a futurist twist, merging Ottoman architecture with modern elements.

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Taha Al-Sabban

‘Untitled (Boats)’
Al-Sabban was mentored by Abdulhalim Radwi, paving the way for early exhibitions. Inspired by Radwi, Al-Sabban studied in Beirut and Rome, recognizing the cultural importance of European art in exploring his heritage. Mecca and Jeddah profoundly shaped his art, inspired by their history, people, and coastal scenery.

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Inji Efflatoun

‘Untitled (Baking)’
Efflatoun, Egyptian artist and activist, left a significant mark culturally. Rejecting her privileged background, she joined left-wing causes opposing imperialism and nationalism. Sotheby's highlights her art's reflection of Egyptian social issues. Despite imprisonment in 1959, she continued painting with a focus on subtle political themes, persisting in depicting working-class life, as seen in her 1971 piece.

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Gazbia Sirry

Born in Cairo in 1925, Gazbia Sirry's career tackled socio-political themes like patriarchy and gender equality, blending Egyptian and Western influences with surrealism. Her over eighty solo exhibitions worldwide attest to her pioneering status, deeply rooted in Egyptian culture and heritage, earning recognition as an influential artist. The auction notes highlight her profound exploration of life's complexities and the emotional depth of her art.

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Etel Adnan

'Untitled (Mount Tamalpais)’

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Huguette Caland

‘Untitled (One Face)’

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Shafic Abboud

‘Grande Chambre 12’
Shafic Abboud's 1987 painting, Grand Chambre 12, blends cubist influences with a focus on color, light, and form, contributing to Lebanese abstraction. Born in Lebanon, Abboud became a prominent modern artist after studying in Paris under influential figures like Andre Lhote and Fernand Leger. Shifting from figurative to abstract art in the 1950s, he crafted a distinctive informal style by melding European, Arabic, and Byzantine influences.

In Grand Chambre 12, Abboud's Chambre series reflects childhood memories and Lebanon's landscape with swirling blue forms, embodying cultural identity.

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