Details & Cataloguing

Boundless: Dubai


Sohrab Sepehri
signed in Farsi 
oil on board 
66.5 by 98cm.; 26 1/4 by 38 1/2 in.
Executed circa 1970. 
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Acquired directly by the present owner from the artist circa 1970

Catalogue Note

Sotheby’s is delighted to present a vibrant and prestigious selection of Middle-Eastern works from the remarkable collection of Ms. Khonsari. A friend and patron to artists wherever she travelled, Khonsari’s eclectic taste encompasses all manner of works, from Cubist and Impressionist masterpieces to Islamic treasures from the Ottoman Empire.  She nurtured her singular vision over extended stays in Geneva and Paris, and was always at the centre of the artistic and intellectual circles in the region. This is the first time that the present works have been offered at auction, and all boast exceptional provenance.  Each of the four works offered were acquired directly from their respective artists by the collector, who counted Abolghassem Saidi, Hossein Kazemi and Sohrab Sepehri among her close friends. These pieces have since remained in her collection.

The works are united in that they are early, largely atypical works for the artists in question. Saidi’s oeuvre is widely known for its graceful, twinkling depiction of trees in glowing, crystalline landscapes, but the present work has the unusual sketchbook-quality of a draughtsman working out a new motif. The work is a rare, developmental example of Saidi’s most favoured subject. In a similar vein, the richly layered colours of Mohsen Vaziri’s Untitled are composed more freely and lavishly than his later geometric abstractions.  Jazeh Tabatabai’s bright, densely patterned work represents a moment in the artist’s career prior to the simplification of his compositions to strongly delineated, individual figures. The naïve elements of the work, coupled with the playful use of colour and labyrinthine aesthetic truly distinguish this piece in artist’s oeuvre. Kazemi’s work is equally divergent in its muted palette, and belongs to his early experiments with cubism and figuration.

The highlight of this distinguished collection of works is undeniably the extraordinary abstract composition by Sohrab Sepehri, Untitled (Abstract Series). While the artist has become known for his sensitive and nuanced study of trees and his native landscape of rural Iran, the present work is one taken from his series of abstractions. The remarkable, energetic use of colour is unusual for artist, yet the persistent verticality and inky palette of the piece suggests the quiet and enduring influence of the Japanese old masters and the wooded settings Sepehri knew so well.

It is a privilege to offer these outstanding works at Sotheby’s inaugural sale in Dubai. The rarity of collections such as this, which are marked by the avant-garde and cohesive vision of the collector, make these pieces truly unique.

Boundless: Dubai