It’s a great comeback for the world’s largest contemporary and modern art fair! Art Basel returns to Basel, Switzerland, as of today and until September 26, after being postponed in 2021 and cancelled in 2020. Also organised in Miami , USA and Hong Kong , China , the fair brings together some 2,500 artists represented by 300 art galleries, out of 1,100 applications, and welcomes around 60,000 visitors each year. The competition for exhibiting galleries and artists is therefore quite tough, but one of the principles of Art Basel is to give a chance to creators of all notoriety, whether they are well established in the art world or just emerging. Whatever the case, we will be seeing several personalities from the Middle East this year! Let’s discover 5 of them.
Painting, sculpture, photography, installation art or performance art, many art forms are represented at this world-class event.
1) Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian – New York James Cohan Gallery
The first artist to be exhibited at this event is an Iranian artist who passed away in April 2019, but her legacy is well known and has persisted for many years. The work presented at Art Basel this year is entitled The Third Family and was created in 2011: the play of mirrors and mosaics are at the heart of these works with kaleidoscopic effects. Influenced by 20th century abstract art and Iranian and Persian geometric art, this series of 8 sculptures, which is priced at $3.2 million, suggests the infinite number of compositions that can be created from rigorous structures.
2) Etel Adnan – German gallery Sfeir-Semler
Le Soleil Toujours is one of the centrepieces of this year’s exhibition: this ceramic wall is a work by Lebanese artist Etel Adnan, whose artistic activities include poetry and writing. Created in 2017, this composition has 136 distinct ceramic tiles with bright colours and the Sun – the optimism – at its centre. Unlike letter art, it is not words that evoke what Etel wanted to express through this 6-metre long piece, but lines and colours. Like the rest of her work, this one is an adventure for the senses. It is estimated at $300,000 to $400,000.
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3) Lawrence Abu Hamdan – German gallery Sfeir-Semler
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is, like Etel Adnan, represented at this edition of Art Basel by the Sfeir-Semler gallery in Hamburg, Germany. Recently opened in Beirut, the Lebanese wing of this gallery greatly contributes to the promotion of Arab art in the Middle East, and to its influence. Also based in Beirut, Lawrence is a contemporary artist who explores sound installations. The Whole Truth is a fascinating radio documentary made in 2012, in which the artist wanted to explore the role and interpretation of the voice in the legal and forensic field in particular: for example, can the authenticity of a verbal testimony be determined, and thus alter court decisions? This production is therefore the centrepiece of the installation, and its selling price varies between 50,000 and 75,000 dollars.
4) Vartan Avakian – Lebanese gallery of Marfa
Vartan Avakian‘s personal works will be on display at Art Basel, depicting life in Lebanon as a tribute to the recent tragic events. These representations will be set against a background of light, neon and shadow to symbolise the country’s economic crisis. Made up of several materials, in the image of a country in crisis, the neon and the sculptures evoke both fragility and strength. Through his work, be it sculptures, video or photography, Avakian wishes to spread the hope of better days. His work is exhibited all over the world.
5) Michael Rakowitz – Barbara Wien Gallery, Berlin
Michael Rakowitz is an associate professor of art theory and practice and a Jew of Iraqi origin. He creates projects in urban public spaces and uses his talent in various forms: the creations presented at Art Basel are panels representing reliefs found in northern Iraq at the archaeological site of Nimrud (an Assyrian city from the 2nd millennium BC). They are made of old newspapers, food packaging and other materials. This project is part of a long-term work on the destruction of Iraqi artefacts during the war in Iraq. Estimated prices for the panels range from $25,000 to $75,000.
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A show rich in art and history to be followed urgently in its digital version to discover real treasures!