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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

New Dubai space MAD Gallery is all about kinetic art, innovation and craftsmanship

We catch up with the curator and founder of the gallery, Maximilian Büsser, who is also the man behind the niche watch brand MB&F.
Dubai is the third city to have a MAD Gallery – the initials stand for Mechanical Art Devices. Courtesy MAD Gallery
Dubai is the third city to have a MAD Gallery – the initials stand for Mechanical Art Devices. Courtesy MAD Gallery

Walking into MAD Gallery is a bit like stepping into a very high-end gadget shop or an ultra-cool playground for tech-geeks.

The initials stand for Mechanical Art Devices, and the items on sale in the gallery/boutique include handmade motorbikes by Japanese artist Chicara Nagata – each one takes three years to craft and will set you back by Dh1.7 million.

There are also floating sculptures made from thousands of vintage watch parts, created by French artist Quentin Carnaille, and atmospheric photographs by Swiss artist Marc Ninghetto featuring the Japanese super­hero Grandizer in different urban settings.

Except for the photographs, each piece in the gallery has moving parts – which is why it is described as being a kinetic art gallery. Dubai is the third city to get a MAD Gallery, after Geneva in Switzerland, and Taipei in Taiwan.

They are owned by Maximilian Büsser, who is also the founder of the watch brand MB&F. He selects all the pieces on display, which include those created under his brand.

We caught up with Büsser at the Dubai launch.

It is clear you are an expert in all things watch-related – how is that passion extend to artistic objects?

MB&F is a life decision and not a business one. It enables me to express my creative ideas without considering any commercial or market influences. As such, our lab is probably the most artistic expression in contemporary watchmaking.

I have always had a great admiration for real artists – those who create because they need to express themselves. During the first years of MB&F, I met many incredible creators, such as Chicara Nagata or Frank Buchwald, and at some point I felt this urge to bring them all together under one roof – the MAD Gallery.

Do you consider the gallery to be an extension of the watch brand or something distinct?

MB&F deconstructs traditional high-end watchmaking and reconstructs it into a kinetic sculpture that tells time. Telling time is a fringe benefit, and watchmaking is only the canvas. In the MAD Gallery, we specifically curate like-minded artists in totally different domains. They are like parallel worlds to ours.

What determines whether a piece of art or a design object ends up in your galleries?

The title MAD – Mechanical Art Devices – gives the curation line. A great innovative idea and exceptional craftsmanship are also necessary, most of the times from a creator whose intense personal story has led him or her to create.

How does the gallery function – is it more like a high-end boutique or will you have curated exhibitions?

There will be a minimum of six artist shows a year. Everything at the MAD Gallery is carefully curated, and virtually all of the pieces we present are unique throughout the GCC, or even the world.

Why did you choose Dubai as the location of your third MAD Gallery?

The Seddiqi family [of jewellers Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons], with whom I have been working with enormous pleasure for more than 17 years, and who were one of the foundation retailers of MB&F 10 years ago, wanted to open one in Dubai. Also, since January 2015, my family and I have lived in Dubai, which we love.

What is your opinion of the art and design scene in the Middle East?

It is developing and growing at incredible speed. It makes me think of China 10 years ago. And it makes me so happy to see so many young and talented Middle Eastern artists finally get recognised.

• For more information, visit www.madgallery.ae

aseaman@thenational.ae