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Contemporary Arab, Iranian & Turkish Art

The Distinct Aesthetics of Three Female Contemporary Middle Eastern Artists

By Sotheby's
Sotheby’s is honoured to be offering a selection of magnificent works by female artists in the 20th Century Art / Middle East sale on 30 April. Each one has a unique story and aesthetic and each developed separately with individual artistic languages to create paintings that resonate with our contemporary time.

U ntitled by Huguette Caland (Lot 16) is laced with undertones of eroticism that speak of the female struggle of patriarchy, a theme that resonates with the plight of many women to this day. However, the painting is not overt in its methodology; the color palette lends hints to the viewers, inviting curiosity and possibly controversy.

Like her fellow Lebanese artist Caland, Etel Adnan also uses a vivacious color palette. Adnan’s work Untitled (Lot 21) employs a luminous, firey red which is reminiscent of the striking California landscape - a source of inspiration for the work from the 60s.

Both artists, despite their unwavering dedication to their artistic practice, did not gain fame until very late in their careers. Institutional recognition resulted after many years of production and work, with Adnan’s seminal exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in London in 2016 and Caland’s first major European show slated to open in late May at the Tate St. Ives.

Fahrelnissa Zeid (Lot 23), a Turkish-Iraqi-Jordanian artist whose dedication to the arts was unwavering despite her displacement due to political circumstances, also garnered institutional support posthumously.

A common theme that links all three artists is the variation and manipulation of the colour red. Historically, the colour has been associated with fire and blood or alternatively passion and love, which can be seen as salient themes of these artists. The color red is associated with extremes - an homage to the extreme measures Caland, Adnan and Zeid respectively undertook to reach the pinnacle of success.

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