Christie’s upcoming spring auction of Modern and Contemporary Art in Dubai will be led by a 6m long painting by the Palestinian Ismail Shammout. Odyssey of a People – estimated at $800,000-900,000 – was painted in 1980; reading from right to left, it summarises both the history of Palestine and the painter’s dream of returning to his homeland.
As well as being a highly regarded artist, Ismail Shammout (1930-2006) was a PLO activist and publisher (of Art in Palestine, one of the first English-language publications on Palestinian art). Odyssey of a People is a spectacular piece, arguably his masterwork; as Christie’s puts it, “driven by emotion and passion it is the most important and seminal work of the artist’s career”.
It also hasn’t been seen in public since 2002. That was in Ramallah, where it was hidden from an Israeli incursion and eventually made its way back to the Shammout family home in Amman.
The painting will be previewed at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel on 15 to 17 March before being offered for sale on 18 March.