The grand finale of the 10th Dubai Art Season, World Art Dubai, runs until Saturday at the World Trade Centre. Having been warmed up for all things artistic by Art Week last month, the city welcomes another celebration of the arts. Billed as “a fusion of art, education and entertainment”, the annual retail-focused event has a carnival, community feel, with many workshops and events targeted at children and students. However, the event, now in its fourth year, remains an important marketplace for affordable art, with the prices of the art on offer ranging from Dh360 to Dh70,000.
With 30 per cent of the 300 or so artists taking part being based in the UAE, it is certainly local in flavour, although the nationalities of the artists is incredibly diverse, reflecting the melting pot that is the Emirates. Several galleries do attend from abroad, and artists have the chance to take a space themselves, such is the free, eclectic nature of the event.
Content has been curated by Zaahirah Muthy, Stephanie Neville and Atul Panse. All three are artists; all three live in Dubai. The often-conflicting roles of artist and curator doesn’t seem to have caused alarm. Muthy’s organisation Zee Arts holds regular exhibitions of mainly female artists, nearly always including Muthy’s own work; Neville will be showcasing some of her embroidery pieces at booth D52. Panse, is an illustrator and graphic designer who is also an active educator, leading regular workshops at Tashkeel, DIAC and the University of Sharjah.
Spanning the global offerings on display, here are our tips of artists to keep an eye out for.
What's on show
Besher Koshaji, Syrian based in Jordan, showing with Wadi Finan Art Gallery, G24
Fresh from their eye-catching salon-style booth in Art Dubai Modern, Wadi Finan bring three of their artists, including Koshaji. You may remember his solo exhibition in March last year at the Workshop, Dubai, where his paintings so poetically captured a spirit of displacement and disorientation. Having initially followed the cubist sensibility and concentrated on the heady impressions of buildings in cities, his recent works focus on figures; their faces broken-up and unreadable, yet full
Patti Endo, part of the exhibition Walking the Line, Create Hub Gallery, F18
Winner of best regional gallery at last year’s event, Create Hub return with a group exhibition of emerging African artists, which is their area of speciality, as seen in the roster of exhibitions at their Al Quoz gallery space. Endo is half Japanese and half Kenyan, raised in Tokyo, living in Nairobi. Her distinctive drawings of figures often follow the technique of continuous line work, so the pen stays on the paper from start to finish.
Fu Wenjun, China, D38
The creator of the digital pictorial photography technique, Wenjun’s mesmeric artworks fuse the acts of painting and photography in surprising ways, printed on archival, handmade traditional Chinese paper.
Samar Kamel, Egypt, D22
Using materials such as nail polish, comic strips and tea bags, Kamel exclusively creates paintings of women. An Egyptian based in Dubai, her powerful female forms often recall the energy of her daughters. Last year, she collaborated on a work with Batool Jafri, a Pakistani artist based in Dubai, sold to raise money for female prisoners in Egypt. Given that Jafri is showcasing her work on the neighbouring booth (D23), there is every chance the pair might repeat the exercise.
Jeff Murray, UK, A31
Murray’s aerial cityscapes were a hit in previous years; this year he brings with him Paris and Florence, but also new work inspired by Tutankhamun. His signature exacting draughtsmanship and intense detail are still in evidence.
Beatriz Elorza, Spain, A15
The lightness and spontaneity of Elorza’s largely abstract, floral paintings is a breath of fresh air. Reflecting her love of colour and nature, she paints when taking a break from her architectural practice.
Shreya Mehta, India/US, B23
Liquid Tapestries is the name of the latest body of work by Mehta, an Indian artist who trained in Belgium and lives in New York. Inspired by the traditional intricate geometric patterning common to carpets and architectural detailing from her homeland, she builds several layers of different images, one on top of the other, creating illusions and an intense depth of field that is very contemporary and 3D in feel.
Mika Yajima, Japan, A12
A sign of how artists can progress year on year, Yajima participated in a group exhibition of Japanese artists in 2017 and returns with a solo presentation of three recent series, experimenting in different ways with plant fibre materials. Trained in the craft of kimono-making, she works with tapestry and weaving processes, always maintaining a close connection to her spiritual calling.
Marisha Nell/Design by Mariska, South Africa, B25-5
Famous for taking unwanted objects such as used Nespresso pods and cans, and recycling them into her artworks, for this year’s World Art Dubai, Nell has created a unique piece, Father of the Nation, to honour the Year of Zayed. In the 30 days running up to the event, she has participated in a Waste Me Not challenge, attempting to wear all the waste she generates in that time.
The Ajala Project, UAE, E13 & 14
The social enterprise organisation is a special events partner of WAD, organising talks and a doodle marathon. They also present 360-degree virtual-reality installation Noor, which had its premiere at Sikka Art Fair last month.
World Art Dubai runs daily until Saturday, from 2pm to 9pm. Tickets are Dh25 from the
door or Dh20 from dubai.platinumlist.net