Two Egyptian painters set personal records at Christie's Dubai auction

Ahram Online , Saturday 19 Mar 2016

Paintings by Omar El-Nagdi and Hamed Ewais were among works sold at Christie's auction Wednesday, setting records for each artist. Together with Mahmoud Saïd, they represented the three highest sales of the evening

Omar El-Nagdi
Fragment from Omar El-Nagdi's painting Sarajevo

Paintings by Omar El-Nagdi and Hamed Ewais were among several Egyptian works that went on sale during Christie's Dubai auction, "Modern and Contemporary Art Now and Then," that was held Wednesday, 16 March. The sale set records for each artist. 

El-Nagdi's painting, Sarajevo (1992), sold for $1,145,000, almost tripling estimates set at $400,000-$600,000. The final price was the highest offered for any artwork during the sale that included 123 lots with 98 sold, including a large number of artists from the Middle East.

Sarajevo, which came to auction for the first time, was once part of the collection of Her Excellency Ambassador Francine Henrich in 1993.

Christie's press release explained that, "Sarajevo depicts the slaughter of El-Nagdi’s Bosniak brothers in Sarajevo. It is one of the most poignant depictions of the horrors of war painted since 1937, when Pablo Picasso created his iconic Guernica. At three metres in height and almost 11 metres in length, this triptych is arguably the most important and ambitious work produced by the artist with regard to its complexity, monumentality, expression and subject matter."

Another Egyptian painter, Hamed Ewais, also established a personal record with the sale of Al Aabour (The Crossing of the Suez Canal, 1974) for $605,000 against estimates of $300,000-$400,000. 

Ewais's painting garnered the third highest price for a work during the auction.

The second highest priced work was also painted by an iconic Egyptian artist, Mahmoud Saïd (1897-1964). His Le Nil à El Derr (Nubie) (The Nile in El Derr, Nubia, 1933) sold for $701,000 against the estimates of $250,000-$350,000.

The auction was part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of Christie's Dubai, including over 40 lots from the strongest Middle East painters.

According to Christie's, aside of the Egyptian masters, lots included Lebanese painters Shafic Abboud and Paul GuiragossianSyrian Fateh Moudarres, Iranians Sohrab Sepehri, Parviz Tanavoli, Monir Farmanfarmaian, and Iraqi Kadhim Haider (who also established a personal record), among others.

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