Inside Art Dubai’s Contemporary halls

The Shhhhhhh...shout! installation by Nadim Karam (2)

Art Dubai, the leading contemporary art fair in the Middle East returned for its 10th edition. Held at Madinat Jumeirah, the fair holds the largest and most diverse fair line-up to date, with 94 galleries from 40 countries exhibiting in the Contemporary and Modern halls. Art Dubai continues until 19 March.


1×1 Art Gallery, Dubai

“Art Dubai has come a long way over the past 10 years,” says Antonia Carver, fair director, “and we’re all excited to see the developments over the next decade. Our programme is unlike any other. We represent an art world that is truly global, has huge potential, and our programme foregrounds artistic discovery, ideas-generation and cultural exchange.”


Now being a home to 40 different galleries, Carver says that Dubai art scene has experienced a major transformation in past ten years.

The Shhhhhhh...shout! installation by Nadim Karam

The Shhhhhhh…shout! installation by Nadim Karam

“We see new galleries opening every year and the government has been very supportive of the art scene development,” adds Carver.

Art Dubai Contemporary included 76 galleries from 35 countries while Art Dubai Modern included 13 galleries from nine countries.

Anish Kapoor (2)

Random triangle mirror by Anish Kapoor.

In its debut participation in the art fair, Dubai-based 1×1 Art gallery presented the work by six contemporary Indian artists.

“We have been in Dubai for last 20 years and we’ve just moved to new space recently in Al Aserkal Avenue,” comments Malini Gulrajani, founder of 1×1 Art Gallery. “We used to work only with Indian artists and clients and we were quite happy working in this niche market. But recently, we have made the decision to expand our market and to do things differently. The world has changed and you have to open yourself to other areas and artists from other countries.

Antonella Zazzera, Copper thread

Antonella Zazzera, Copper thread

“Dubai art scene has changed a lot and 20 years ago it didn’t even exist. We are proud of being part of that process and that change, bringing the art to the fore. Al Aserkal has a great structure and they are working hard to promote art. On the other hand, being in Dubai is a great advantage for galleries since it is in the middle of the world, you can network and work with people from anywhere.”

Benjamin Tavakol

Benjamin Tavakol, Khak gallery

In addition to returning to the fair’s contemporary section, Ayyam Gallery presents a curated exhibition in the selected focus on seminal twentieth-century art, Art Dubai Modern.

The Shhhhhhh...shout! installation by Nadim Karam (2)

The Shhhhhhh…shout! installation by Nadim Karam (2)

With art spaces in Beirut and Dubai, Ayyam Gallery featured the work of Nadim Karam and Faisal Samra, two of the Arab world’s foremost innovators. Lebanese artist and architect Nadim Karam unveiled at the Contemporary Gallery the Shhhhhhh…shout! installation, exploring what happens when a silence erupt into shout.


Dastan’s basement, Teheran

This year, Istanbul-based Sanatorium gallery featured the work from artist Ahmet Dogu İpek.

Gallery One showcased a great selection of Palestinian contemporary art by emerging Palestinian artists, including the “Universal Soldier” project by Palestinian visual artist Bashar Alhroub. His project tackles the notion of plastic toy soldier games, which are globally popular among children, as a reflection of reality in parallel to the actual soldier deployed on the ground.

Sewed Ceiling Alke Reeh

Dastan’s basement, Teheran

“Within children who have suffered the affliction of war, such toys and games take on a different dimension,” explains Alhroub. “As a result, they tend to carry a more peculiar effect on the child, especially during their awareness formation phase. Raising important questions about the soldier as the customary symbol of war the project attempts to dismantle the dominant stereotypical associations.”

Khak gallery

Dastan’s basement, Teheran

The first ever exhibition of its kind on the Philipines’ art scene in Marker, ambitious new commission and projects, the largest non-to-profit educational programming of any international art fair worldwide and the return of the highly anticipated Global Art Forum.

The Universal Soldier project by Palestinian artist Bashar Alhroub.

Dastan’s basement, Teheran

Besides the gallery halls, the fair’s programme included commissioned projects and performances, artists’ and curators’ residencies and educational workshops.

Yasmina Reggad, an independent curator and writer who works between London, Algiers and Athens explained that eight new site-specific projects have been developed this year through Art Dubai Commissions and A.i.R Dubai residencies.

Unknown letter by Timo Nasseri

Unknown letter by Timo Nasseri

Exploring the themes “The Future was”, the tenth edition of the Global Art Forum was commissioned by writer Shumon Basar, with Amal Khalaf and Uzma Rizvi as co-directors and it included a series of 32 live talks, panels, and performances.

Recognised for its support of artist, the Abraj Group Art Prize invited artist from the Middle East, Noth Africa and South Asia to submit proposals for a major new commission to be produced through a $100,000 award. Curated by Nav Haq, the Abraj Group Art Prize winning artist duo Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme showcased the new commissioned work alongside three shortlisted artists Dina Danish, Mahmoud Khlaed and Basir Mahmood.

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