Young upstarts plotting Mid East art revolution

Story highlights

  • Ayyam Gallery in Dubai has run 13 Young Collectors' Auctions since 2008
  • Ten of the artists at the latest auction were aged 30 or under
  • Many of the young emerging artists are photographers
Lara Zankoul and Lara Atallah are both young Lebanese photographers taking their first steps in promising artistic careers.
Their work, however, could hardly be more different. While Atallah focuses on the gritty reality of life in urban Beirut, Zankoul's images are whimsical and surreal, created from her imagination.
They are both among the latest emerging artists to be featured in the Young Collectors Auction run by Ayyam Gallery in Dubai.
The auction, held on Tuesday (May 15), featured 75 lots from 63 emerging and established Middle Eastern artists, 10 of them aged 30 or under.
Ayyam Gallery has been running Young Collectors Auctions since 2008, aimed at supporting emerging artists and opening the art market to new collectors. Almost all the works had estimates well below $10,000, with most in the region of $2,000 to $3,000.
"The art market here is quite young and people are interested in buying art, but intimidated by the gallery scene and auctions," said Hisham Samawi, Ayyam's auctioneer.
"We wanted to start something with a relaxed atmosphere, lower estimates and young emerging artists."
The recipe has been a success and Ayyam has just run its 13th Young Collectors' Auction. The latest raised a total of $550,000.
Samawi believes Middle Eastern art could be on the verge of an explosion similar to that seen in the Chinese and Indian art markets in recent years.
"There's great art in this region and internationally it's undervalued," he said. "There has been a steady increase in prices and this is just the beginning. Politically there's so much going on and that's reflected by artists."
Here we feature 10 emerging Middle Eastern artists aged 30 or under from the Ayyam Young Collectors Auction who could be names to watch out for in the future.
1. Lara Zankoul, Lebanon, born 1987
"Excess" by Lara Zankoul of Lebanon
Zankoul, 24, studied economics at university and only began photography as a hobby in 2009.
"Over time the hobby grew and grew and became an obsession," she said. "I promoted my work through social media and gradually started to gain more followers and feedback and eventually freelance projects."
She held her first exhibition collective two years ago and is part of Ayyam's incubator program. Zankoul's photography consists of surreal compositions she creates from her imagination, rather than an attempt to capture reality.
"I like to create worlds of my own. A lot of work goes into setting up the scene," said Zankoul, who once dragged a bed into the sea for a photograph