Creative Arts & Design

ART DUBAI IN ITS 11TH YEAR

People visit the Art Dubai exhibition in the Gulf emirate on March 14, 2017, on the eve of the opening of the 11th annual art fair, billed as the largest contemporary art show in the Middle East and North Africa. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB

Art Dubai is managed and owned by The Art Dubai Group (Art Dubai Fair FZ LLC), which is a collaboration of Middle East Fairs Ltd and DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre). For ten years, The Art Dubai Group has played a valuable role in UAE’s ongoing transformation into a global center for design and arts. The Group produces internationally known, successful design and art festivals and fairs. These fairs and festivals are Downtown Design, Art Dubai, Art Week, Dubai Design Week, and Design Days Dubai. These ventures exhibit a program of cultural and creative events across UAE, Dubai, and other countries. These events help Dubai shine under the international spotlight. They make Dubai a destination of international culture.

Now on its 11th year, Art Dubai is already categorized as a mature event. It is the epitomy of a growing market. Art Dubai begins the second decade with Myrna Ayad—the new director. She replaced Antonia Carver. Her entrance into Art Dubai is accompanies by its very first modern symposium, a broader exhibitor list, and a brand-new website. Ayad is a former journalist/editor of Canvas Magazine. She has always been an advocate of Dubai’s art scene. Her main role now is to continue the efforts in making Dubai the center for art in the entire region.

Ayad strongly disagrees that the market for Middle Eastern art is centered in London. She said that the variety and the quantity is right smack in the Middle East. Established and emerging artists take part significantly in making Dubai the center of art in the region. Of course, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah are the two places where there is so much going on when it comes to culture. Now is a dynamic time for these two regions. Ayad thinks that Jeddah is an exciting platform as well. It is home to fantastic Saudi artists, some progressive galleries, like Athr Gallery and Hafez Gallery, which both exhibit at Art Dubai, and has a great collector base. The annual initiative calles 21,39 Jeddah Arts, which happens every February is also one event to anticipate.

The new director believes that the centers for art is found beyond Dubai’s borders. Art Dubai’s existing Exhibitor List can already be categorized as an international list. It has ninety-three galleries from all forty-four countries. It is a mixture of big galleries and small regional set ups such as London’s Victoria Miro Gallery.

Art Dubai does not present themed programs and presentations. According to Pablo Del Val, International Director, the galleries are now encouraged to come up with presentations that are more curated. He said that the exhibitions shall be divided into two-artist or solo exhibitions. This allows a more concentrated contemplation. He also commented that the multi-artist shows enable a good overview of various works.

Ayad is especially proud of Art Dubai’s Modern Symposium, which will focus on the 20th Century Masters’ cultural impact. The masters are from South Asia, Middle East, and Africa. Ayad added that there’s a paucity of information concerning the Modern Art History of MENA and the Middle East. The Modern Symposium coincides with the intention to add to the learning and dialogue in the area, which will absolutely round off the Modern aspect of the said fair.

With the dedicated efforts of The Art Dubai Group, Art Dubai will always be a destination for great art. It will continue to celebrate the creativity of the artists and designers in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Dubai is truly the center of Middle Eastern art and Art Dubai will always be one of the programs that remind the world of it.