Art Dubai returns for the 11th edition for the region's leading art fair. The 2017 edition will feature the largest and most diverse line-up to date. As well as a not-for-profit and education section, the main galleries will be split into five sections: 'Contemporary', 'Modern', 'Commissions', the Abraaj Group Prize and Global Art Forum.
Here, the Fair Director, Myrna Ayad, selects the her highlights from the week-long fair.
The Abraaj Group Art Prize
Rana Begum is the winner of the 2017 Abraaj Group Art Prize. I’ve followed her career for many years now and each time I’ve seen her work, I sense a reinterpretation, a rethinking and an exploration of new variations — specifically, the fusion between architecture, minimalism and Islamic abstraction. I’m excited at the prospect of this young Bangladeshi artist presenting her winning work for the ninth Abraaj Group Art Prize under the curatorship of Omar Berrada, a curator whose work I admire. I am keen on seeing how she will push boundaries, as will the shortlisted artists: Doa Aly, Raha Raissnia and Sarah Abu Abdallah.
No. 426 (2013) by Rana Begum. Courtesy of The Third Line
Art Dubai Contemporary
One of the most exciting aspects about this hall is the curatorial effort that has gone into each booth. The works of some of the world’s emerging artists — alongside established and respected names — will be exhibited through 78 galleries. That variety is unique and attests to Art Dubai’s positioning as the most global of art fairs. We’ve got a strong contingent of galleries from Iran and South America this year, and it’s always interesting to feel the pulse of the times and trends in this hall.
Ksi, Ein and An (2015). By Shahrzad Changalvee. Courtesy of O Gallery
Art Dubai Commissions
This is the first time that our commissions will be wholly performance-based and I am excited about this for several reasons. Primarily, there is something to be said about walking through the fair only to be pleasantly interrupted by a performance. That definitely offers a different energy altogether. Yasmina Reggad returns to curate our commissions and, along with Lana Fahmi, will pay tribute to the late, great Emirati artist Hassan Sharif. I appreciate that these performances — including those by Iván Argote and Pauline Bastard, Eglé Budvytyté and Manuel Pelmus — altogether add another dimension to experiencing art. Personally, I value how these presentations continue to resonate, because ultimately, we recall emotions and a lot comes through with performance.
Public Collection of Modern Art. Courtesy of Manuel Pelmus and Alexandra Pirici
Art Dubai Modern
If ever there were a visual anthology of the 20th Century histories of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa regions, every edition of Art Dubai Modern would constitute a chapter. The prized artworks exhibited in this hall testify to these culturally rich regions with long, colourful histories, ranging from political and economic hardship, through to the many layers of tradition, modernity and social issues. With 15 galleries this year it’s a different energy altogether. I’d describe it as pensive and momentous with a lot more time spent exploring the narratives behind each work.
Le jardin d'Eden (1950). By Aly Ben Salem. Courtesy of Elmarsa Dubai
Global Art Forum
As someone who has lived in the UAE for over 30 years, the concept of trade was and still is prevalent, from seeing the dhows along the Dubai Creek bring in goods from Iran and India, which made their way into souks and retail outlets, to witnessing the construction of ‘trading hubs’ in the form of huge shopping malls, DIFC and others. Much as the UAE has been a nucleus in the regional trading industry, so too is Art Dubai as far as art and ideas are concerned, and I am excited at how the Global Art Forum — aptly titled Trading Places and led by the indefatigable Shumon Basar — will tackle the exchange of ideas, narratives, concepts and goods.
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Art Dubai, March 15 to 18, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, artdubai.ae