Born in the US and based in Dubai, art aficionado Suzy Sikorski is on a mission to uncover the hidden histories of Middle Eastern artwork
It was back in 2016 that Suzy Sikorski fell in love with the UAE, having received a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to study its then much-undiscovered art landscape – a move which ultimately led her to create MidEast Art, a digital platform on art from the MENA region. Now associate specialist of Middle East Modern & Contemporary Art at Christie’s Dubai, 27-year-old Suzy, who is originally from Atlantic Beach, New York, works mainly from the Dubai office, with short stints in London and New York, consigning all of the artworks from the Middle East region, which Christie’s sells from Dubai, online and globally, all whilst working on Middle East auctions.
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Extremely passionate about further developing the region’s cultural landscape, Suzy’s aim is to uncover the hidden and untold histories of artists and artworks, and introduce them to the world. “I’m constantly digging into the art libraries, checking exhibition catalogues, and getting in touch with artist estates, foundations and external scholars to receive as much information and art historical context on the works as possible,” she says. She also works closely with these estates to receive as much detailed information on the provenance of Middle Eastern works – detailing exactly where they came from – ensuring due diligence is always met. “I’ve received images of the family gathering around on holidays, at prom nights even, with the work clearly in the background. This is truly a collaborative effort with the owner of the work. We dive into their family archives and point to how important these artworks were to them, and that have remained on their walls since,” Suzy explains.
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Describing her most recent project as the most defining moment of her career so far, Christie’s 20th and 21st Century sale, held at the end of October, featured a beautiful Iraqi collection, with a range of programming in both Dubai and London. “The Orin and Rita Parker Collection of Modern Iraqi art represents one of the largest and historically diverse collections of Modern Arab art coming from an American family to the market,” Suzy tells MOJEH. “Preparing for this collection was a deep dive into ’60s Baghdad, as I pieced together the stories of an American family living between the two worlds (and something I really identify with!).” Add to that a recent collaboration with Warehouse 421 on a four-part podcast series called Whistle While You Work, dedicated to what makes artists human (their daily rituals, habits, actions and fantasies, for starters), it’s safe to say it won’t be slowing down for Suzy Sikorski anytime soon. And that’s just the way she likes it.
Suzy’s day-to-night style is just as eclectic as the artwork she covets
Describe your personal style… Simple monochrome with clean cuts in earthy and saturated tones. I also love a nice pop of colour – I’m almost always wearing something in emerald green!
What are your favourite wardrobe essentials? My malachite Van Cleef & Arpels necklace, white Alexander McQueen sneakers, and a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress.
Which brands do you love and why? Missoni and Hermès, because the colours and textures remind me of my beach home back in New York; Proenza Schouler, because the bags always make me feel like I’m back in school; and Comme des Garcons, because the little heart symbol reminds my mother of myself as a child – a bit like a Yoshitomo Nara painting!
What is the last thing you bought? A leather dress from Ted Baker.
Which shoes are your most treasured? My Gucci Marmont black leather mid-heel pumps and my knee-high leather Stuart Weitzman boots. The latter is a complete staple in my winterwear.
How do you dress for the different seasons? There is a cashmere scarf and sweater for every season, and I usually always keep one at hand – they come in handy for a breezy beach night.
My Dubai Life
Where is home for you? Home for me is Downtown Dubai. My quaint apartment is the perfect proximity to the Christie’s Dubai office in DIFC, and just the right balance of residential meets urban.
Where is your favourite place in Dubai for a good night out? Roberto’s in DIFC, with a good view of the Burj Khalifa.
Which is your favourite restaurant? 3fils in Jumeirah Fishing Village. A perfect oasis outside of the bustle of DIFC, with fresh salty air coming off the Gulf.
Where do you go to escape the hustle and bustle? I venture out to Khorfakkan on the eastern UAE coast and usually visit the studio of artist Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim. It’s beautifully rocky terrain, and there’s such a creative community there, naturally from such a breath-taking landscape. Fun fact: the sun sets behind the mountains, so you can never see the sun set over there.
Where was the last place you discovered? An exhibition at the Flying Saucer in Sharjah that was just recently refurbished from a ’70s restaurant into an arts centre. It’s now an exhibition venue for the Sharjah Arts Foundation and has such a groovy architecture. A must-see when you visit Sharjah.
How can you tell someone is from Dubai? Their accent! A menagerie of different international accents that you cannot really place.
What do you love to do at the end of a long day? When I need an ‘escape’, I head to Bur Dubai and get karak. I used to live there when receiving my Fulbright scholarship a few years back, and did so many photography street shoots that I know most of the neighbourhoods like the back of my hand.
If I didn’t live in Dubai I could see myself in… London.
- Words by Naomi Chadderton