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UNHCR to benefit from Arab poems
By a staff reporter February 18, 2014
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DUBAI: A depiction of the Sixth Ode from the seven highly respected Arabic poems known as the Muallaqat Al Sabaa by the internationally acclaimed artist Ali Omar Ermes, will be one of highlights in Christie’s March 19 sale in Dubai of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish art.

The artist generously gifted the piece to Middle East-based magazine, Philanthropy Age, to help it support the most worthy regional causes. Estimated at $120,000-180,000 (Dhs440,000-660,000), Philanthropy Age has decided to share a proportion of the proceeds from the sale with UNHCR, to assist the UN agency in its remarkable and ongoing efforts for refugees from the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Muallaqat Al Sabaa is the title given to seven (and some say ten) ancient poems considered to be the finest pieces of early Arabic poetry. Each describes aspects of cultural, social and political life, as well as love, generosity, bravery and heroism: together the code of moral and ethical values of a society, and principles that can be passed from generation to generation. They highlight, and perfectly illustrate, the conscience of a nation.

Often when a poem was judged to be exceptional, it would be intricately and delicately embroidered on the finest silk cloth and hung at the Ka’ba as a sign of its importance. The artist’s Odes will honour great poetry and historic poets in a similarly unique way.

In this Mojamhara Ali Omar Ermes features the magnificent verse of the pre-Islamic warrior-poet Anter Ibne Shaddad, in which he describes his battles with the complexity of life and its many dimensions. Through several layers of opulent oranges, reds and violets interspersed with text and letters offering a rich textural play, each of the 85 lines of the poem are expertly included in an array of multiple letters in varying size, the verse fusing together knowledge, experience and history, at the same time illustrating and defining moral and ethical codes.

Ali Omar Ermes is most recently celebrated for his painting Tawasul Al Himam, or ‘The Continuum of Resolve’, commissioned to commemorate and celebrate Dubai, UAE’s successful bid to host the World Expo in 2020.

Following the award of the Expo to Dubai, the first ever Expo planned for the region, the art work has quickly won iconic status in the UAE, and is already being hailed as ‘The Expo Painting’. It is now in the possession of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Higher Committee for Dubai Expo 2020.

Christie’s auction of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art, takes place at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel on March 19, at 7:00 pm. Christie’s Watch sale will take place immediately afterwards. Viewing is open to the public at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel at special timings.

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