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Art bargains to be had?

Orange County Museum of Art's acting director says upcoming auction will offer high quality for a fraction of market value, despite prices up to $100,000.

March 06, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Artist Asad Faulwell, 31, poses for a photo at his home studio in Newport Beach. The Orange County Museum of Art will host Art Auction 2014, with more than 60 museum-quality works of art that will be auctioned off on March 14. Proceeds benefit the museum's exhibition and education programs.
Artist Asad Faulwell, 31, poses for a photo at his home… (KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

The most common response to Asad Faulwell's latest series comes with a question.

It goes something like this: You're neither Algerian nor a woman, so why did you make these?

The 35 pieces in "Les Femmes D'Alger" form a modern-day commentary on heavily stylized works created by Delacroix in the 1800s and Picasso in the 1950s. They are the Orange County resident's canvas, acrylic paint and paper shrines to female combatants from the Algerian people's struggle to overthrow the French government.

Faulwell's curiosity was piqued seven years ago when he discovered Gillo Pontecorvo's 1967 film "The Battle of Algiers." He was most disturbed by the stories of young women recruited by the Algerian army to carry out attacks in the city's French quarters.

They were tortured and convicted of treason after being captured by their colonizers. The women were pardoned at the war's end, but their problems didn't end there. Instead of being welcomed back home, they were shunned, unable to shake the tainted image that hung over them and assimilate back into society.

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There were thousands of such cases, but years of extensive research yielded only the names and corresponding images of 12 women, Faulwell said. These women, whom he represents midway between living and dead, akin to a monument, form the backbone of his work.

"It doesn't really matter to me who I am or where I'm from," the 31-year-old artist said. "I'm not going to just fit into the categories that I'm supposed to fit into. My thinking was that I don't want to make work about myself. I want to make it about something that interests me."

What further surprised Faulwell was that Algerians never wondered about the motive for his work. He found this contrary to the art world's general proclivity to form categories based on ethnicity and gender, which is obvious in other places like Dubai, where he said patrons approached him puzzled about his intent.

He doesn't mind the reactions because it means that people are paying attention.

Faulwell continues to add to his repertoire in a 400-square-foot home studio in Newport Beach. It is there where he made a 14-by-11-inch piece for the Orange County Museum of Art's upcoming Art Auction 2014.

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