x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Art Dubai is a passport to new departures in art

As the city prepares for the biggest art fair in the region, Art Dubai, DIFC hosts three shows.

DUBAI //With the region's biggest art fair, Art Dubai, opening this week, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is hosting three separate exhibitions beginning today - including one that simulates an airport.

Edge of Arabia, a travelling exhibition of work by contemporary Saudi Arabian artists, makes its first appearance in Dubai tonight with a show entitled Terminal.

The invitations have been modelled on an airline ticket, and visitors will be escorted into the show on the DIFC grounds.

"We are playing with the concepts of space and time," said Bashar al Shroogi, the director of DIFC's Cuadro Fine Art Gallery and the curator of all three shows. "You will only be allowed to spend a certain amount of time in each section, such as immigration, check-in and customs. It is a unique concept."

Inside Cuadro, the exhibition Right Here Right Now will present the work of five emerging artists. They include Manal al Dowayan, a photographic artist from Saudi Arabia, and Jaffar al Oraibi, a Bahraini artist making his UAE debut with 25 large-scale works under the title When Ali Met William.

Gita Meh, an Iranian artist based in Dubai, will present work, which introduces elements of modern life such as laptops and iPods onto replicas of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.

"These are the ones to watch," said Mr al Shroogi, the director of the gallery. "They bring fresh and diverse perspectives, and I believe they will be some of the most compelling voices in our industry in years to come."

Brad Downey, an American artist based in Berlin, chose Dubai for his latest project, We Are Beginning, because it is a "new city", and not as established as the European cities he is used to. His "interference" brand of street art incorporates items that exist in the public space, including street signs and furniture.

"This city is one of paradox," he said. "It depends what angle you are looking at it from. If you look up at the tops of the skyscrapers, it is like you are looking into the future, but if you look closely at the gaps between the buildings, there is still a lot that is undeveloped."

Art Dubai begins tomorrow and runs until Sunday. Edge of Arabia runs until April 15 and the two Cuadro exhibitions run until May 9.

aseaman@thenational.ae