by Andreea Belba
Art Dubai is a stunning international art fair that renders the artistic richness of the Arab world from a unique perspective and continues to host valuable artwork that reflects Dubai’s multiculturalism in the diversity of the galleries. This year’s edition made its appearance under its new Director Myrna Ayad. Considering the cradle of artwork from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, Art Dubai 2017 presented 277 artists from 40 countries with solo or two-artist exhibitions, allowing a more focused contemplation and multi-artist shows, enabling an overview of different works.
Offering an extensive program, the fair included several sections such as Art Dubai Projects, dedicated exclusively to performance art, Global Art Forum 11, including the most outstanding yearly arts conference in Asia and the Middle East, the Room which looked like an immersive, large-scale installation and included visual art, gastronomy, performance and a dynamic dining experience. Art Dubai also provided the largest educational program for children and students sustained by a group of famous writers and curators who got involved in a series of intensive workshops during and after the Art Dubai Fair.
Art Dubai Contemporary comprised 77 galleries rigorously selected that focused on solo or group exhibitions. This year’s edition included galleries from Europe and North America such as Marianne Boesky Gallery (New York), Galerie Daniel Templon (Paris, Brussels), Carlier Gebauer (Berlin), Galleria Franco Noero (Torino) Victoria Miro (London). The participants from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia included 12 galleries from the UAE and newcomers like Al Marhoon Gallery from Algeria and Ab / Anbar and Mohsen Gallery from Tehran.
Art Dubai also welcomed back Athr Gallery (Jeddah), Chatterjee & Lal (Mumbai), Dastan’s Basement (Tehran), Experimenter (Kolkata), Selma Feriani Gallery (Tunis), Gypsum Gallery (Cairo) and Zawyeh Gallery (Ramallah). The most extensive number of galleries came from South America, with first attendants from Peru and Uruguay and exhibiting galleries such as the likes of Piero Atchugarry Gallery (Pueblo Garzón) Revolver Galeria (Lima), D12 Proyectos de Arte (Santiago) and Vermelho (Sao Paulo).
The 4th edition of Art Dubai Modern featured 15 galleries from 12 countries including Agial Art Gallery (Beirut), exhibiting the ‘icon of Arab graphic arts,’ Mustafa Al Hallaj (1938-2002), ArtTalks (Cairo). This section was dedicated to museum-quality works signed by masters from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia that had a specific influence throughout the 20th century. The inaugural edition Art Dubai Modern Symposium consisted of various talks and presentations related to the cultural impact of 20th century masters from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.
This edition showcased impressive masterpieces by Reza Aramesh, Avish Khebrehzadeh, Sirak Melkonian and Raha Raissia, who exhibited a wide range of works from sculptures and paintings to installations and photos, each relating to a specific message from the artist. Reza Aramesh’s works expressed the violence of the surrounding world appealing to voluptuous fabrics. It was an exquisite artistry and historical data capture depicting emotion and real concern. In his turn, Avish Khebrehzadeh’s works connected memory to discourse by resorting to the human figure and vivid colours immortalised on her canvas. The artist Sirak Melkonian embodied contempt, transposing in his works the struggle between abstractness and stylization, whereas Raha Raissia’s art reflected clarity by overlaying positive and negative spaces.
Among the most outstanding galleries, Aicon was the oldest with a ten-time participation exhibiting the works of the Pakistani artist Rasheed Araeen. Other representative artists were Mithu Sen and Chittroram Mazumdar, whose interpretation of light was shocking and interesting. Light was portrayed as natural but could also be seen as commercialized, it was nutritive but also cruel, it was the the opposite of darkness. In Mazumdar’s work, mechanical forms were endowed with desire. Each installation told a story using light as a medium to either reveal or hide things. Mithu Sen’s works were a mixture of surrealism and humour, his paintings lit up from behind to reveal the beautiful way dye had dispersed. There was a biological feel too as he included the anatomy of a bird, humans and imaginary creatures. The landscapes consisted of roots and branches which cleverly resembled the vein beneath the human skin, connecting us with nature.
Abrag Group Art Prize
The winning artist of the 2017 AGAP was Bangladeshi-born Rana Begum. This prize, which is the most notable distinction in the area, is aimed at enhancing the artist’s potential and developing their talent. His works were displayed in Al Quoz, Alserkai Avenue and in Dubai International Financial Centre. Rashid Rana has been a prominent artist in the Pakistani art world for the last 20 years. His works invite the viewer to re-analyze what spatial awareness is with his art oscillating between macro and micro awareness. The artist explained that he wanted to release himself and the viewer from the specificity of time and space, to capture the micro and the macro simultaneously in order to render a
Another remarkable moment within the fair was the homage paid to the recently deceased Emirati artist, Hassan Sharif. Yasmina Reggad, the independent curator who supervised the 2017 Art Dubai commissions, dedicated a show to Sharif at the Gallery Isabelle Van den Eynde. Hassan Sharif studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London from 1979 to 1984 and returned to the UAE to gather a following for contemporary art. The artwork under the name IF-THEN GOTO, the rope installation, was activated through dance movements and paid homage to Sharif who envisaged the audience’s transformational power for his society.
This year, curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, were part of the Selection Committee aiming at looking forward “to bringing a renewed perspective” to the Art Dubai fair. The Abraaj Group was Art Dubai’s main partner, The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority sustained the educational program and Julius Baer and Piaget were the main sponsors, with Madinat Jumeirah hosting this awesome event.
Art Basel Hong Kong
Art Basel Hong Kong is not just an inestimable odyssey of art history and craft but also a timeless cultural bond between the vibrant West and the electrifying East. Impressive art galleries, international fairs, exhibitions and extravagant auctions metamorphose the metropolis into an art hub where even the most sophisticated visitor can fulfil his artistic cravings!
“It owes its fame to its geographical location,” states Adeline Ooi, Director of Asia-Pacific region. “Hong Kong is right at the heart of Asia and attracts visitors from across North and Southeast Asia, as well as from Australia and New Zealand. Its superb transport infrastructure and links make it convenient for Art Basel’s visitors from the US and Europe”.
As of its inaugural debut in 2013, most of Art Basel’s participating galleries emanated from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region with works of the highest quality. Any art lover will take delight in the ravishing collections of paintings, drawings, sculptures, videos and installations, overflowing with novelty, creativity and freshness.
The 2017 edition of the fair, to be held from March 23rd to 25th, will reveal a unique concept displayed in six sectors: Galleries, Insights, Discoveries, Encounters, Magazines and Film as well as a new curatorial sector, Kabinett. Art Basel Hong Kong gained its prestige both for local emerging galleries and for international galleries, concurrently attracting art institutions from around the world including notable artists, private collectors, curators and critics.
The venue to host this much anticipated fair is the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, where established and emerging artists will unveil mesmerizing artworks to showcase the intercultural exchange between the Orient and the Occident. Roaming about through this impressive artistic labyrinth, visitors will undergo a captivating experience that will arouse their senses.
Art Basel Hong Kong has disclosed its gallery array for this years 5th edition, counting 241 participants with 29 newcomers, including Imura Art Gallery from Kyoto, Mor Charpentier from Paris, Aicon Gallery and Athena Contemporânea from Brazil. The fair will comprise traditional sectors like Discoveries, propelling emerging artists, and Encounters, consecrated to large-scale pieces. The novelty will be the Kabinett with mini-exhibitions in the booths of the exhibiting galleries. Art Basel Hong Kong will permanently set itself up as a yearly stimulus with artistic platforms displaying the steady and joint endeavours of talented artists.
Galleries, the most significant section, will count 190 galleries dedicated to modern and contemporary art that will exhibit paintings, sculptures, installations, photos, films and digital art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Expect names like Antenna Space, Experimenter and Liang Gallery who have qualified for the Galleries – after a minimal three-year operation – as well as the likes of Karma International and Timothy Taylor, who are said to back after a brief interruption. You will also see the Third Line and Waddington Custot, who are first-time exhibitors.
Edouard Malingue Gallery will be a reference point in the Galleries and Encounters section this 2017 edition, with works by Cho Yong-Ik (b. 1934), Laurent Grasso (b. 1972), Eric Baudart (b. 1972), Su-Mei Tse (b. 1973) and Fabien Mérelle (b. 1981). Wang Wei will complement Edouard Malingue Gallery’s booth display in the Encounters sector. The artist will render nature in a simple and pure form conceiving windows to scrutinize other valences of meaning. He questions the genuineness of the natural shapes and constructively incorporates spaces and visual elements in a process of built-in interaction. Tackling the concept of mental modification, Laurent Grasso conceptualizes reality by exploring history, mythology, science and supernatural phenomena to create a research-based epic demarcating the actual and the impossible. Grasso will also explain concepts of time and place swinging between temporality and spatiality.
Insights section will consist of 27 galleries from Asia and Asia-Pacific region (from Turkey to New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent) including solo or thematic exhibitions as well as curatorial projects. Eight of them are newcomers like Aicon Gallery, C-Space, Hive Center for Contemporary Art, Imura art gallery, Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, Mind Set Art Center, Sundaram Tagore Gallery and The Third Gallery Aya. Aicon Gallery will be representative within the Insights sector featuring Salman Toor, a talented artist born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1983. Living and working in Brooklyn, New York, Toor had his Masters of Fine Art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 2009 and several solo exhibitions in the U.S.A and Pakistan. His artwork reflects both the nineteenth century-style painting and abstractionism by using design and visual elements from Eastern and Western pop culture.
Discoveries section will allocate an influential platform for emerging artists with solo and two-person exhibitions. This sector will highlight the talent of the next generation of artists at the beginning of their career. Among the attending galleries, 12 will be first participants in the fair like A+ Contemporary, Athena Contemporânea, Bank, Thomas Brambilla, Clearing, Dittrich & Schlechtriem, High Art, Jhaveri Contemporary, Project Native Informant, etc.
Kabinett section will be new in the Hong Kong show presenting curated projects in a separately delimited space area within their booths. This inaugural curatorial concept that offers thematic solo or group exhibitions, installations, film or video programs as well as historical presentations, is a starting ramp for promoting the participating galleries and impels artists to give free rein to their imagination.
Encounters section will display 17 large-scale sculptural installations and sculptures of leading contemporary artists considered to “transcend the traditional art fair booth.” This year’s themes will exploit time, space and meaning. The section will showcase works of reputable artists like Pio Abad, Rasheed Araeen, Katharina Grosse, Gonkar Gyatso, Joyce Ho, Waqas Khan, Kimsooja, Alicja Kwade, Sanné Mestrom, Michael Parekowhai, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Wang Wei, etc. Gabriel Barredo (b. 1957) will be another eccentric artist to have initiated kinetic sculptures. His work is designed to generate total opuses that he conceives after an intense work of bricolage, sketching, and painting, lifting his sculptures to theatrical lengths, interactive for the viewer. He will feature both large and small pieces from simple drawings to narratives associated with sound and light.
Film section will offer projections of short and feature-length films dedicated or created by artists at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre or the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Moreover, the film sector will exhibit Abigail Reynolds’ film that explores the lost libraries along the Silk Road and whose work was awarded the BMW Art Journey in 2016.
Conversations and Salon will provide challenging programs and talk shows to enhance the audience’s artistic knowledge about international art. The Conversations will reveal the conceptions of world artists, collectors and critics regarding creating, collecting and displaying art pieces. Salon will function as a platform for short, informal presentations, talks, performances, lectures where different speakers will expose their personal perspectives upon the art world.
Art Basel Hong Kong has developed tight cultural relationships with organizations like Asia Art Archive, the Asia Society, Spring Workshop, Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong Arts Center and M+ to present creative shows. Hong Kong Art Gallery Week, Gallery Night and HKU, local and international cultural groups, have also an extensive collaboration with Art Basel.
Art Basel’s main partner is UBS which is also actively involved in innovative art projects such as Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. For sponsors: Davidoff, Audemars Piguet and NetJets are the Associate Partners; Ruinart is the a Lounge Host; BMW is the Official Automotive Partner; Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong as the Official Hotel Partner; Swiss International Airlines as Official Carrier and of course The Financial Times as main Media Partner.
Art Basel Hong Kong is the essential artistry pillar of Asia’s contemporary art scene whose creativity, innovation and values inspire a new audacious experience. It has become an incontestable driving force with an incredible potential that nurtures and supports the art world offering platforms where artists, collectors and museum directors have prolific debates to exchange ideas. If Hong Kong perpetually enchants visitors with its exclusive background, then Art Basel fascinates them with inestimable masterpieces as an active cultural custodian of international artwork.