Christie's is pleased to present the Dubai-based collection of Syrian art of Dr. and Mrs. Akram Khatib. Amal Mulhem, the wife of Dr. Khatib is an artist herself and visionary who established the Beaux Arts Gallery in 1990, one of Dubai's first galleries of Modern art on Jumeirah Beach Road, that encouraged the growth of the nascent Dubai art scene in the early nineties. Passionate about Syrian art, Dr. and Mrs. Akram Khatib invited artists like Nazir Nabaa, Fateh Moudarres, Marwan, Abdullatif Al-Smoudi, Ghassan Al-Sibai, Ezeddin Shammout, Nasser Chaura, Elias Zayat, Nazir Ismail, Mohammed Ghannoum and Maamoun Al Homsi, to present and promote their art in the UAE. Additionally, the Khatib family showcased the works of Louay Kayyali, Mahmoud Hammad and the Ismail Brothers, Adham and Naim, posthumously. Dubai was still a city under construction; introducing Modern and Contemporary Arab art was a very courageous move that was received with a lot of enthusiasm by the local community in the area and a network of art lovers and art followers attended the many openings, book signings hosted by Mrs. Khatib and enjoyed their amazing hospitality.
Mrs. Khatib's appreciation for the arts, which stems from her personal creative interests and endeavours, led her to nurture the artistic talent of artists like Al Homsi and Nabaa. During the 1990s, the Khatib family invited Syrian artists, Fateh Moudarres (1922-1999) and Nazir Nabaa (b. 1938) to their home in Dubai. This allowed both artists to spend some time away from Damascus and they were both encouraged to paint freely, while enjoying the delights of being around the Gulf sea. Both artists had organised shows at Amal Mulhem's gallery, which proved to be very successful. The Khatib family's relationship with Maamoun Al Homsi, on the other hand, was mainly formed in Damascus, Syria, as the artist's health condition was deteriorating, which forbade him from travelling.
The present five lots are exceptional examples of works produced by each of the artists. The works by Fateh Moudarres and Nazir Nabaa cover the most important periods of their respective bodies of work, while the work by Maamoun Al Homsi is one of his strongest compositions to date. The works offered in this collection are works that the couple collected and their collection is a true testament to the genuine friendship shared between three significant Syrian artists and these notable collectors.
Maamoun Al Homsi's The Violinist's Dreams (lot 32 in this sale) is one of the most captivating works from the Syrian artist's oeuvre. Depicting a seated violinist, his fingers lightly pressed against the neck of his instrument in a premeditated gesture to reveal the sonorous music of the violin, the painting has been executed in a slightly cubist fashion. With his brush, Al Homsi has employed a symphony of greys and browns to create the harmonious colour palette, which gives the work a dream-like existence.
From his early days spent at the famous cafés of Nofara, observing faces, figures and expressions, Al Homsi put them down on pen and paper. Like many Syrians, he was gravely affected by the wars that plagued Syria and, consequentially, his art, took a dark turn. This was followed by a period of transparency, during which time he produced works like the present painting. Al Homsi believes that music was an honest form of art with a vocabulary that could penetrate the soul and leave the listener with a feeling of bliss and euphoria. For many years now, Al Homsi lives a life of seclusion and produces very little new art.
PRIVATE COLLECTION OF DR. AND MRS. AKRAM KHATIB
Ahlam Azef Al Kaman Al Insan (The Violinist's Dreams)