His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai officially opened Art Dubai for its fifth edition. The region’s best attended art fair, this year’s Art Dubai features a total of 81 galleries from 34 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the United States, making it one of the most diverse and strongest programs to date. The fair witnessed a robust interest before its official opening to the public today after esteemed guests, royal patrons and international and regional art professionals attended the Jumeirah Patron’s Preview on Tuesday. The fair emphasizes Middle Eastern Art during a time of political upheaval in the region.
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“Dubai has been a trading post and meeting point for South Asia, Iran, the Arab world and Africa for hundreds of years. Over the past decade, Dubai has become the commercial art centre of the region and a city of ideas and entrepreneurship, providing homegrown support for artists, exhibitions and galleries. Through the fair and our platforms for dialogue, Art Dubai has been an integral part of this development and while rooted in the region, we are committed to looking to the future and continuing our role as a catalyst linking Asia and the Middle East with the rest of the world,” stated Antonia Carver, the fair’s new director.
On Tuesday, guests witnessed the launch of the 2011 Abraaj Capital Art Prize which included specially-created pieces by Hamra Abbas, Jananne Al-Ani, Shezad Dawood, Nadia Kaabi-Linke and Timo Nasseri with guest curator Sharmini Perreira. Another popular attraction was the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition “Les Voyages Extraordinaires,” inspired by four stories by science fiction writer Jules Verne.
From Thursday, the fair is open to the public and welcomes a range of compelling events including artist tours led by Malak Helmy, whose work “Chorus on Fair Dust” provides a unique auditory experience, and Abhishek Hazra, who uses his “Cantordust Touring Machine” as a way to offer an alternate view of the fair by someone with impaired vision.
Galleries reported a strong interest in sales from the outset, among them the local Isabelle Van Den Eynde, who sold works from Iranian brothers Romni and Rokni Haerizadeh, and Tunisian Galerie El-Marsa, who sold a Nja Mahdaoui to a Saudi Arabian private collector.
This year’s fair also features a host of first-timers, including Marianne Boesky Gallery, one of New York’s top sellers. It also sees the debut of MARKER, a new platform curated by Nav Haq for experimental art spaces from Asia and the Middle East, which showcases projects by emerging artists and includes five dynamic spaces from art organizations throughout the world. Specifically conceived for Art Dubai, these spaces work to create a dialogue between commercial and curatorial aspects of the fair.
The Image (2010) Albareh Gallery, by Nasr Warwour, via FT
Also included in the fair’s programming is Global Art Forum, a four-day series of discussions curated by a committee chaired by Shumon Basar, which explores how the world’s political and societal changes have transformed contemporary art audiences as well as expectations for artists and their work, and addresses the ongoing collaboration between the art and fashion communities.
Such a diverse program of compelling events brought together by art professionals from cities as far away as Moscow, San Francisco, Paris, Melbourne and Porto Alegre shows how art can bridge the distance between cultures. The strength of this year’s fair holds promise after last year’s economic slump. It emphasizes a continued determination to highlight the strategic location of Dubai as a crossroads for artistic discovery.
Art Dubai Art Dubai 2011: Works to Watch Out for [Arabian Business]
FT Arts Extra- Art Dubai 2011 [FT]
Dubai Art FairEmerges from 2010 Slump, Focuses on Mideast Art [Bloomberg]
Art Dubai organizers expect 30 percent spike in visitors [Arabian Business]
With More than 80 Galleries Art Dubai Presents its most Diverse Edition to Date [Artdaily]
Sheikh Mohammad Inaugurates Art Dubai [Gulfnews]
Art Dubai Underscores Importance of Middle Eastern Art Market [Ameinfo]
Western Artists Make New Inroads at Art Dubai 2011 [Artinfo]