Abu Dhabi Art is a year-long affair that strives to promote artistic expression by providing opportunities for emerging and established artists to present their works in a multitude of forms. With diverse public engagement as one of its guiding principles, the programme has in place talks and workshops as well as exhibitions and performances. Abu Dhabi Art is culminating this November for its yearly art fair that provides galleries with a platform to showcase their acquired pieces to international buyers, and artists an opportunity to present site-specific works to the public.
The art fair will open on the 14th of November with a reception in celebration of the fair’s 10-year anniversary, and will run until the 17th of the same month. One of the key exhibitions at this year’s fair is Beyond: Artist Commissions, which opens on the first day of the fair and will run until the 26 January 2019. The exhibition will display the works of emerging and established commissioned artists from the region.
One of the headlining artists, Pakistani Imran Qureshi takes inspiration from traditional miniature paintings prevalent in ancient Mughal courts, adapting traditional motifs to contemporary contexts. For instance, Qureshi uses the colour red in his paintings to represent death, evoking a near-daily political reality in Pakistan and in many countries around the world. From the colour red, reminiscent of blood, grows flowers, representing the strength of the population and it’s hope for a better future.
Working in tandem between the traditional medium of miniature painting and that of contemporary abstract painting, Qureshi uses somewhat ancient techniques to make us reflect on the present, probing us to dig at the relationship between history and the current state of affairs.
Ammar Al Attar is an Emirati mixed media artist and photographer whose practice seeks to highlight aspects of Emirati culture that he feels are going increasingly astray in an age of intense globalization. He delves into daily rituals, interactions and exchanges and examines facets of material culture which have long been at the centre of daily life in the region, but are now looking like they might be under threat. Al Attar is represented by Cuadro Gallery in Dubai and has been commissioned by Abu Dhabi Art to present his work at Beyond: Artist Commissions.
Furthermore, a comprehensive programme of talks titled ‘Global Circulation of Art and The New Markets’ organised by Salwa Mikdadi (NYU Abu Dhabi) and Nada Shabout (UNT) is being held over the three-day period of the fair. Panels will be led by experts in international and regional art markets, and will address issues related to the recent intensification of the trade in art in North Africa and West Asia.
In the past 10 years, the art scene in the Arabian Gulf countries has exploded; from the mass opening of museums came a large-scale acquisition of art from around the world, which in turn led to a burgeoning of primary and secondary art markets. Abu Dhabi Art Fair seeks to reflect upon this very institutionalization of the art world, while considering the ways it will impact relationships between artists, curators and the public.
Consideration will also be given to the challenges that come with navigating an art market in zones of political volatility, such as transporting artworks across regions of conflict and the restoration of looted cultural items. The talks will come to a close with a screening, and regional premiere of Price of Everything by Nathaniel Kahn, followed by a Q&A with the producer.
Last but not least, Durub Al Tawaya, Abu Dhabi Art’s performing arts programme returns this November with an exclusive exploration into the effect of technology on artistic practice. To truly embody this dynamic new relationship, performances will not be confined to traditional settings such as theatres or galleries, but will take place across Abu Dhabi’s vast cityscape.
Not only will this demonstrate the constantly evolving nature of artistic expression today, but will enable performers as well as the public to truly engage with the city’s urban fabric and residents. Productions are scheduled over the next three months, from November to January.
To book your tickets to the fair and know more about it, click here