The Nowrouz Auction Gala Benefit was held on Saturday 21 March 2015 at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai. Featuring MOP Foundation's long-term patron and supporter HE Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan, Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Social Development, as the Keynote Speaker, the Auction Gala featured artwork donated by over 40 Iranian and international artists.
To view a personal message from HH Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi on the occasion of the Nowrouz Auction Gala click here.
The auction was conducted by Christie's auctioneer Julien Brunie and raised over $328,100 which directly benefit the following charities and programs:
- Al Noor Training Centre, Dubai
- The Future Centre for Special Needs, Abu Dhabi
- Different Perspectives on Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art, British Museum, London
- An MRes in Curatorial/Knowledge at Goldsmiths, University of London
- Parasol unit / MOP Foundation Research Residency, London
- Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize 2015
- MOP Foundation Art & Education Programme
Following the auction a Nowrouz Concert was held featuring Shahram Shabpareh, the King of Iranian Pop, who with the help of his band rang in the Persian New Year.
To view images from the Auction Gala click here.
To view the auction catalogue click here.
SHEIKH NAHAYAN BIN MUBARAK AL NAHAYAN KEYNOTE SPEECH
Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my distinct pleasure once more to welcome Magic of Persia to the United Arab Emirates. This year in Dubai, the Persian visual arts brilliantly supplement Art Dubai. I greatly admire your mission to promote Iranian art and culture around the globe and your strong commitment to support worthy charities that help our fellow human beings. The impressive achievements of many people have made Magic of Persia the success it is today. In particular, we are all grateful for the imaginative and persistent work of Shirley Elghanian, the Founder and Director. She is the magician of the Magic that we so admire. She loves the arts and she loves her Persian heritage. We are the beneficiaries of her love.
We must praise as well the forty-seven immensely talented established and emerging Iranian artists who have so graciously donated their works for the Nowruz Auction tonight. I trust that the professionals from Christie’s will be initiating this Persian New Year, Nowruz 1394, with unprecedented success. The donated works together represent a total investment of countless creative years, an investment that the artists, in the spirit of Nowruz, have simply given away. Their remarkable act recalls your beloved poet Sa’di سعدي who wrote in Golestan that (and I quote) “greatness means that you must give.” Our generous contributing artists have exhibited greatness. They have given us beauty tonight.
We in this audience now have the opportunity to exhibit the works of those artists in our own homes or offices or galleries or museums. Your bids will honor the generosity of the artists. Your successful bids will exhibit the greatness of this audience.
The accomplishments of the Iranian artists whose work we purchase tonight speak directly to the desire of the United Arab Emirates to embrace the arts and the global understanding that they bring to us all. His Highness the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, is developing this nation as an oasis for art and artists. The construction of museums, the exhibition of global art in city shows and countless galleries, and the curriculums of our schools and universities indicate the seriousness of that desire. Joined by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces, the President recognizes art as a universal language to be spoken fluently in a globally engaged country.
It may well be that the arts best convey to each of us the truth of Sa’di’s poetry on the oneness of mankind. His words, as you know, are woven into a magnificent carpet from Isfahan that hangs on a wall at the United Nations. When we contemplate that carpet, the effect is similar to that created by our viewing the works of the twenty emerging artists short-listed for the bi-annual Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize. They draw us all to them and remind us of the oneness of mankind. The eventual winner of the Contemporary Art Prize will represent a group of artists who are clearly in touch with the best of the human spirit. Indeed, a close examination of those works establishes their unquestionable relationship with Persia’s most significant artifact. That object is, of course, the Cyrus Cylinder, gorgeous in its simplicity of form and earth-shaking in its symbolic power. The Cylinder is inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform, the earliest form of writing, on the orders of the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great after he captured Babylon in 539 BCE. It is often described as the first bill of human rights because it appears to encourage freedom of worship throughout the Persian Empire and to allow detained people to return to their homelands. Its message of tolerance and respect is unmistakable.
Also unmistakable is the world’s admiration of the Cyrus Cylinder. It communicates with people everywhere even if they cannot read the cuneiform or explain precisely the beauty of a clay cylinder. The Cylinder is truly art—an object that reaches out to the mind and emotions of the viewer even though it may remain somewhat shrouded in mystery. It is like tonight’s art because I imagine that many of us would be challenged to explain clearly and exactly why the works on display attract us.
At the same time, art—both the Cylinder and the twenty works created by young Iranian artists in competition and the forty-seven works up for auction—firmly transmit certain understandings. The creative spirit of the artists reaches across all artificial boundaries. The intellects of the artists invite us to join them silently in conversation. The openness of the artists encourages us to search at will for every meaning and significance in their work. We know that we have encountered art that we may not fully understand, but we also know that all of us, viewers and artists alike, seek understanding. We respect one another and are happy that our minds and emotions are working together.
That universal understanding is the great achievement of the Magic of Persia. Shirley Elghanian and you have earned an admirable degree of greatness by giving your time, energy, and treasure to the cause of Iranian art and culture. From the time of Cyrus to today, Persian artists have communicated a consistent message—namely, the oneness of mankind. Thank you for your commitment to that ideal and best wishes for a wonderful Nowruz 1394.