• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7665

    International Modern and Contemporary Art

    30 April 2008, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 48

    Dia Azzawi (Iraqi, b. 1939)

    Folklore Mythology

    Price Realised  


    Dia Azzawi (Iraqi, b. 1939)
    Folklore Mythology
    signed and dated in Arabic (lower left); signed, titled and dated 'Azzawi 68 Folkore Mythology' and signed titled and dated in Arabic (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    62 x 71¼in. (158 x 181cm.)
    Painted in 1968

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    The present painting is among the largest and most important early works by Dia Azzawi.

    Azzawi studied art and archeology at the Faculty of Arts at Baghdad University. With encouragement from the Jewad Selim, pioneer of modern Iraqi art, he began to combine techniques of contemporary painting with motifs drawn from the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian heritage of Iraq, and with geometric patterning drawn and arabesque from the contemporary tribal culture of the desert.

    From the mid-1960s these elements formed the basis of his painting. From this time on, in outline his human figures resemble those of Mesopotamian sculpture. The resemblance is also in detail, the prominent round eyes of many of his figures immediately reminiscent of Mesopotamian examples in the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Less common animal figures, such as the bull in the present painting, recalling early bronzes.

    The present painting has combinations of colours not seen in his later paintings. It was at the end of the 1970s that Azzawi developed what is now his distinctive bright colour palette.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Baghdad, National Gallery, Dia Azzawi solo exhibition, 1968
    Paris, Institut du Monde Arabe, Dia Azzawi retrospective exhibition, 2001