x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Mixed response for Art Abu Dhabi

Artists, galleries and art fair officials have had mixed reactions to the announcement of Art Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Artists, galleries and art officials had mixed reactions to Abu Dhabi Art, a new annual event announced on Wednesday night. The international art fair is aimed at curators, artists and galleries from across the region, Europe, America and Asia. Ben Floyd, the co-founder of Art Dubai, said there was plenty of room for another art fair in the UAE and applauded the Abu Dhabi Government for sustaining the arts scene. "The more cultural events that happen in the Gulf, the better for all of us," he said. Although the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), one of the co-sponsors, has not released specific details, officials said they would be considering local artists as well as established international exhibitors. Tarane Khan of the Third Line Gallery in Dubai said it was important to have this kind of event in the capital because the arts scene was different here. "In Dubai, there are a number of galleries with regular exhibitions and events promoting local art, whereas in Abu Dhabi the focus is more on museums and larger pieces," he said. "To have an art fair in the city that centres on local art as well as international art is important because it will bring a good balance." Gita Meh, an Iranian artist who has lived in Dubai for the past two years, said she hoped the new art fair would live up to expectations. "I really hope the organisers do as they say and provide workable opportunities for local artists," she said. "There are too many events in the UAE that support European or American artists and I don't agree. I spent 18 years in New York and I didn't see any Middle Eastern artists exhibited out there - why should we support them over here? "As much as I was lost in the West, I now feel like I'm getting lost in the East. I've had 16 exhibitions in two years so I couldn't ask for more than that, but collectors are still focusing on international art. I feel angry because European art has thousands of years of support behind it but my forefathers didn't have that kind of backing. The only way this new art fair will make a difference is if they provide meaningful support for artists like me and vary the exhibits." The fair will take place on November 19-22 at the Emirates Palace hotel. The other sponsor is the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. aseaman@thenational.ae