On July 15, Ayyam Auctions
held its ninth public sale, resulting in just under $750,000 in sales. Offering nearly 60 lots of contemporary Arab art, the 2011 Beirut Sale included a solid mix of painting, sculpture, photography and prints by established and emerging artists. With a strong focus on art from the Levant, attendees had the opportunity to bid on masterworks by such prominent artists as painter Samia Halaby, sculptor Nadim Karam and photographer Nassouh Zaghouleh. Works that were emblematic of their long careers represented a number of pioneering figures such as Paul Guiragossian, Moustafa Fathi and Chafic Abboud, drawing a steady crowd of avid collectors.
Highlights of the evening included the $96,000 sale of a large piece belonging to painter Safwan Dahouls ongoing Dream series, which went beyond estimate, and the $48,000 result for an abstract canvas by painter Hussein Madi, one of the artists top auction records to date. Record prices were established for seminal artist Jamil Molaeb, whose prolific career has often defined contemporary Lebanese painting, and budding Syria-based painters Oussama Diab and Elias Izoli, who have experienced a steady increase in their visibility among collectors over the past two years.
Molaebs Fas (2010), a meticulously executed composition in which hundreds of traditional homes are overlaid at random in a large geometric abstraction, sold for $48,000, while Diabs The Creation (2011), an oversized politically charged work that featured prominently in a recent issue of Lebanons LAgenda magazine, generated a significant buzz prior to the night of the auction, fetching over $28,000. An equally striking and prophetic 2011 untitled work by Izoli yielded far more than estimated, with the final hammer price surpassing $19,000.