• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7665

    International Modern and Contemporary Art

    30 April 2008, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

  • Lot 8

    Nazir Ismail (Syrian, b. 1948)


    Price Realised  


    Nazir Ismail (Syrian, b. 1948)
    signed in Arabic and dated '70' (upper left)
    charcoal and pastel on card
    19 x 27 1/8in. (48.5 x 69cm.)
    Painted in 1970

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    This painting depicting a family of roosters comes from the first solo exhibition held for Nazir Ismail, at the Arabic Cultural Centre in Damascus, in 1971.

    About this painting the artist says:
    'In the 1970s I was so taken by the traditional, by our heritage and all the symbols that relate to us rather than to others elsewhere, about the environment, and what is attributed to that particular environment. So I looked around me, and started seeing things as symbols of our being. The rooster for instance, wakes me up and woke my father up each morning, and maybe will continue to do so even in urban Damascus. Each symbol was also a metaphor for something else, as one idea leads to another. At that time I was reading the Bible, the story of when Jesus says to Peter, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times"( Matthew 26:34). So the rooster in my eyes became the sign which people deny one another, and its crowing is like an alarm bell which puts me on the look-out for the denial.'


    Damascus, Arabic Cultural Centre, Nazir Ismail solo exhibition, 1971