x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Crisis drives down art sales

The second artparis-AbuDhabi drew to a close with dealers upbeat about the future of the fledgling event despite reporting low sales figures, which were partly blamed on the global credit crunch.

ABU DHABI // The second artparis-AbuDhabi drew to a close yesterday with dealers upbeat about the future of the fledgling event despite reporting low sales figures, which were partly blamed on the global credit crunch. The event attracted a host of exquisite paintings and sculptures from across the globe, including a US$7million painting by the Spanish artist, Joan Miro.

The fair featured work from almost 60 galleries from 22 countries and around 12,000 visitors are thought to have attended. Sales figures were expected to be lower than last year's US$16million total although exact details were not available yesterday. Dealers reported disappointing sales and a tally carried out by The National found that three hours before the event closed, 40 artworks were marked as sold and around 20 more reserved.

The director of London's Whitford Fine Art gallery, Adrian Mibus, who brought over a previously unexhibited work by the British painter Francis Bacon, valued at US$10million, said he felt the fair had fallen victim to the worldwide credit squeeze. "Sales have been very disappointing. People are just not selling much. It is a difficult market here and a very difficult time, economically speaking," he said.

"There is a recession on and now the Gulf is noticing it too," he said, adding the best selling work covered Arabic themes. Mathias Rastorfer, partner at the Galerie Gmurzynska, based in Zurich, Switzerland, said the fair was more than simply a marketplace to buy art, it was also a means of broadening the artistic appreciation of the region's people. A German gallery owner, Brigitte Shenk, said visitors were keen to learn more about European and American art styles and the fair would continue to prosper on the back of this enthusiasm.

chamilton@thenational.ae