ArtintheCity speaks to Hisham Samawi, Managing Partner of Ayyam Gallery, ahead of the upcoming Young Collectors Auction
In 2008 Hisham Samawi partnered with his cousin Khaled Samawi to establish Ayyam Gallery in the Gulf. With the opening of its Dubai location that same year, he expanded the commercial art space’s presence in the Middle Eastern art scene. As managing partner of Ayyam Gallery, he has been instrumental in the gallery’s groundbreaking approach to promoting regional art with such initiatives as Ayyam Auctions, the Middle East’s first homegrown auction house, and Ayyam Art Center, an expansive nonprofit art space that hosts a variety of events throughout the year.
The Young Collectors Auction, held at Ayyam Art Center, is now considered one of the highlights of the arts calendar in Dubai, and ArtintheCity spoke to Hisham ahead of the next installment on Tuesday 15 May 2012.
The upcoming Young Collectors Auction public sale organised by Ayyam Gallery opens on 15 May at the Ayyam Art Center in Alserkal Avenue. For our readers who are unfamiliar with this series of auctions, can you explain the concept and how they can get involved?
The Young Collectors Auction is an auction we do about 2-3 times a year where we put up for sale great art from many of the top established and emerging artists from the Arab world, Iran and Turkey. With a diverse range of mediums and affordable estimates from 1-10K dollars, this is the perfect platform for new and young collectors to begin buying art in a fun and exciting way.
The auction takes place on Tuesday the 15th at 7PM. Anyone who wants to participate can just come to the Ayyam Art Center in Al Quoz before the auction and register for a paddle. If someone wants to participate but cannot attend the live auction, they can submit a silent bid or arrange with us to have one of our specialists call them during the auction so they can bid over the phone.
In the context of promoting and supporting artists from the Middle East, how would you compare The Young Collectors Auction to Middle Eastern sales from auction houses such as Christie’s?
The Young Collectors Auction focuses more on emerging artists and smaller works or editions from established artists. Our estimates are much lower than the average lot for Christie’s making us a great gateway or starting point into the world of collecting and auctions. We also provide a platform for many artists to launch their careers with global auction debuts.
The artists featured in this edition of the auction have been described as a mixture of emerging and renowned artists from the region. Are any of the works new pieces, and how would you describe the investment potential of the works on sale for buyers?
We have a great mix of newly produced works as well as older works. For example we have a great silkscreen made by Samia Halaby from 1983 and many works that were made in 2012.
As far as investment potential a collector is really buying great art at relatively low prices so there is not that much downside to the investment assuming they love the piece. We encourage people to come and buy works that they like so they want to hang it in their home and enjoy it every day. There’s always a chance that artists could grow to be a big star but you never know.
This is the 13th outing for The Young Collectors Auction, and the work of Iranian, Turkish and Arab artists will be featured. How does the range of artists included compare to your previous auctions, and how has the success of your previous auctions allowed you to expand the variety of artists included and the breadth of countries represented?
Yes when we first started our auctions we focused on what we knew best which was Arab art. As our sales have grown so has our client base and relationships with consigners. We experimented with introducing art from other regions and it was successful so we have taken it to the next level with this sale. We are excited about the range of works we have as it truly represents the best from the region.
The second installment of ‘The Samawi Collection’, a collection of artworks owned by your cousin Khaled Samawi and yourself, was recently on display at Ayyam Art Center. From a collector’s point of view, which pieces in the upcoming sale are you particularly excited about and why?
Well as the curators for the auction and the Samawi Collection you could say we are excited about the whole sale. If you visited the Samawi Collection you saw alot of photography which is well represented in this upcoming Young Collectors Auction.
As The Young Collectors Auction becomes an established public sale, how do you hope to expand and improve on it the future?
Our goal from day one was to help discover and promote young artists as well as young collectors by giving them a platform from which they could grow and develop. Any opportunity where we can build on this is something we look to do such as do more sales a year or perhaps in other parts of the region.
The Young Collectors Auction takes place on 15 May 2012 at Ayyam Art Center, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, 7PM