x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

What is in store at Art Dubai 2014

Galleries and art enthusiasts from around the world are converging in the UAE this week for the eighth edition of Art Dubai. With 85 participating galleries and several non-profit programmes, there is something for everyone at the fair.

Adam Henein's Waiting for Water. Courtesy Karim Francis
Adam Henein's Waiting for Water. Courtesy Karim Francis

In one of the most confusing phraseologies of the art world, the term modern art actually refers to art produced between the 1860s and 1970s – although usually, in the Middle East, it describes work from the 1940s. Anything after that is considered contemporary.

This distinction is an important one to keep in mind when you visit Art Dubai, especially as one of the highlights of this year’s fair is a new section dedicated entirely to Middle East and South Asian modern art.

In this section, Cairo’s Karim Francis gallery brings work by Adam Henein, the leading Egyptian artist who works with bronze and graphite to create wonderfully poetic sculptures with clean lines and simple forms.

Aicon Gallery, which showcases a mix of contemporary and modern artists from the Indian subcontinent and the diaspora, will show work from the late M F Husain, whose cubist style earned him the title of the Picasso of India.

The modern section, which is Art Dubai’s newest and includes 11 galleries, was advised by the renowned curators and historians Savita Apte, Catherine David, Kristine Khouri and Nada Shabout.

“Art Dubai’s development over the past eight years reflects the extraordinary growth of the UAE arts scene,” says Antonia Carver, the director of Art Dubai. “The fair has acted as a catalyst, expediting Dubai’s role as a bona fide cultural hub for the region and beyond. We’re thrilled to be opening our eighth edition with such a strong and diverse range of galleries.”

The largest section, containing 70 of the 85 participating galleries, is Contemporary. Here, several Dubai-based galleries such as Carbon 12 and Grey Noise will exhibit in their booths alongside important international names such as Marian Goodman from New York, who is participating in the fair for the first time.

Marian Goodman Gallery will be exhibiting William Kentridge, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Struth and Tacita Dean – names that underline just how much of a permanent fixture Art Dubai is becoming on the international art calendar.

This year’s Marker section, dedicated each year to a particular geographical area, turns its focus to Central Asia and the Caucasus. It’s curated by the artists of Slavs and Tatars, who also opened a show at The Third Line gallery on Monday night.

Outside of the commercial space is the largest non-profit programme to date, with 12 commissioned artists producing work under the guidance of Fawz Kabra, the curator for Art Dubai Projects.

“The prompt that I got was to encourage the artists to intervene in the fair,” says Kabra. “So, for me, it was thinking about what that word intervention means and what does it mean to invite people to intervene.”

With the help of the team from Art Dubai, Kabra selected 12 artists – all five artists-in-residence who have been working out of Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood since January and seven others, including the Clark House Initiative from Mumbai, the prominent Emirati painter Najat Makki and Mounira Al Solh, a Lebanese artist who spends her time between Beirut and Amsterdam.

Populating the space between Mina A’Salam hotel and Madinat Jumeirah, the fair will also host the Global Art Forum, a cultural-debate platform, as well as several book launches and smaller events. So, even if you are not a serious art buyer, it is certainly worth going down to see what all the fuss is about.

• Art Dubai runs until Sunday at the Madinat Jumeirah. For more information, visit www.artdubai.ae

aseaman@thenational.ae