• Twelve paintings from Modern Iraqi Masters included in 22 March auction

A dozen seminal artworks by Iraq’s modern masters from the extensive collection of Fadhil Chalabi have been included in Christie’s Middle East’s upcoming Dubai sale on 22 March. Chalabi’s passion for works by Iraqi artists, which provided a link to the homeland he loved, resulted in a massive collection of works solely from that country, and contributed to the support of both established and emerging artists.

Pieces in the forthcoming Christie’s Dubai sale include two untitled, abstract paintings by Shakir Hassan Al Said (Iraqi, 1925-2004), an artist with whom Chalabi had a close friendship, as well as two works created in the late 1980s by the prolific and versatile artist Dia Azzawi (Iraqi, b, 1939). These pieces, along with the majority of the 12 artworks from the Chalabi Collection offered by Christie’s, were acquired directly from the artists themselves, attesting to the longstanding relationships that Chalabi maintained with his compatriots despite living abroad.

“Mr. Chalabi’s intention in studying and working in the oil sector was to develop skills in other markets that could then be brought back to Iraq for the country’s development and benefit; his passion for Iraqi art was a way to maintain his connection with his homeland and its most creative communities,” said Hala Khayat, Director and Head of Sale, Christie’s Middle East.

“Offering twelve of the most prominent and relevant works from the Chalabi Collection shows the breadth and depth in Iraq’s artistic evolution, bringing back to the region that same insight and talent that Mr. Chalabi intended in amassing only works from many of Iraq’s most celebrated artists,” she added.

Also included in the sale is an untitled work by Naziha Selim (Iraqi, 1927-2008), who was described by Iraq’s former president, Jalal Talabani (1933-2017), as “the first Iraqi woman who anchored the pillars of Iraqi contemporary art.” Iraq’s artistic tradition was strong in the Selim family; Naziha’s father was a painter and a work by her artist brother, Jewad Selim, The Watermelon Seller, set a world auction record for at Christie’s in October 2017 by selling for £668,750 ($876,731), more than double its high pre-sale estimate of £250,000.

Two paintings by Kadhim Haider (Iraqi, 1932-1985), a pioneer of Iraqi Modern art, are featured in the Chalabi Collection offered by Christie’s: And a Horse is Selling, painted in 1965 and featuring an equine motif that would later dominate many of his pieces, and A View of Palm Trees in Taarimiyah Baghdad.

All twelve of the Fadhil Chalabi Collection works will be on view at Christie’s Dubai in Jumeirah Emirates Towers from Monday, 19 March.

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