Dubai Art Season: Our highlights

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March in Dubai has to be the busiest month for the world of Art: Between DIFC’s Art Night, Alserkal Art Week, SIKKA Art Fair, Art Dubai…It’s about 500 events that are happening over 7 days and across 3 Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Initiated by the Art Dubai Group and supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), Art Week is the region’s largest cultural festival taking place in the UAE every March as part of Dubai’s Art Season.


1960’s, Water was often extracted from these water wells, which were no deeper than the height of a man, for domestic use and washing.


The 9th edition of Art Week started on Saturday March 16 and sees this year a 25% increase in venues staging events throughout the week, with over 80 venues filled with exhibitions, panel discussions, film screenings, workshops and live performances.

Art Dubai, the lead cultural event of Art Week, returns to Madinat Jumeirah from tomorrow March 20th to the 23rd, with its most extensive program to date comprising of four gallery sections, performance art and music, talks and workshops, special projects and family programming. We’re particularly excited about UAE NOW which explores the evolving landscape of 5 independent local artist-run platforms: Bait 15, an artist-run studio and exhibition space in Abu Dhabi and the only platform to have its own physical space; Banat Collective, a creative online community to discuss womanhood in the Middle East and North Africa; Daftar Asfar, a ‘travelling sketchbook’ which invites artists to create a collection of artworks within its pages; Jaffat el Aqlam, a platform for the written and spoken word; and PAC (Public Art Collective), a research based organization dedicated to the question of the role of the artist in the public realm in the UAE.


Custot Gallery Dubai (Dubai), Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai 2019, Courtesy of Photo Solutions


JDEED’s editor Salomé Aubergé,  picked a few galleries presented at Art Dubai that we truly recommend you don’t miss: ERTI GALLERY, a Tbilisi based contemporary art gallery with a cool selection of artists, mix of photography, installation, painting as well as ZAWYEH GALLERY, Ramallah, Palestine which hosted an exhibition on Mahdi Baraghithi, a very edgy digital artist, photographer, video maker. As per the artists whose works we can not wait to see and resee, Lebanese-Saudi Based Ali Chaaban and his new art work “The Traditionalist” (A broken plane in Arabic rug) that created a sensation on social media over the past weeks, Timo Nasseri, a German-Iranian artists represented by Sfeir-Semler gallery, Setareh Shahbazi, an Iranian visual artist represented by Gypsum Gallery in Cairo and Lebanese-London bred Aya Haidar who has a very inventive body of multimedia work, repurposes everyday objects to give them alternative narratives.


Ali Chaaban. “The Traditionalist” , Instagram


Another fair not to be missed, the 9th edition of SIKKA Art Fair in the heart of Old Dubai at Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. SIKKA, which is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority opened the festivities last Saturday (16th) and is running until the 24th. 2019 being the Year Of Tolerance in the UAE, the fair reflects it by bringing together emerging regional talents displaying works under the theme An Open Window to Art and Tolerance. For the first time this year, Sikka Art Fair will offer two distinctive but intertwined experiences: ‘Sikka by Day’ celebrating Al Fahidi tenants, the neighbourhood, and their art exhibitions and installations; and ‘Sikka by Night’ where multiple cultural activations will be hosted.

Monday March 18 was Alserkal Avenue’s Galleries Night which provided an extended-hours evening of exhibitions, commissions, artist talks, guest projects, screenings, tours and workshops while DIFC Art Nights held the same nightpresented a fusion of art, culture and entertainment with a number of exhibitions and creative activities.

More highlights, the newly opened Jameel Arts Centre presents its inaugural exhibition Crude as well as a selection of Artist’s Rooms by Chiharu Shiota, Seher Shah and Randhir Singh, Hemali Bhuta and Farah Al Qasimi and an array of talks related to exhibitions and activities happening across the UAE. Elsewhere in Dubai, Tashkeel presents a group exhibition of 30 works by artists living and working in the UAE.

As per Abu Dhabi,  Louvre Abu Dhabi, currently exhibits works by Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer which is a first in the Middle East region. Also making a debut in the region is the The Princely Collections, featuring key figures in the Late Renaissance and Baroque artistic movements, presented at the 16th annual Abu Dhabi Festival at ADMAF in Manarat Al Saadiyat. Other Abu Dhabi debuts include Swiss artist Zimoun’s survey exhibition at the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery and Warehouse421’s group exhibition focusing on the development of six of the key Abjads (consonantal alphabets) of the Middle East.

Last but not least, this year is the 14th edition of the Sharjah Biennial, which takes over spaces at the Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah Art Museum, the Emirates Fine Art Society and stretches across to venues on the East Coast. Elsewhere in the Emirate, Maraya Arts Centre host UAE Unlimited’s fifth collaborative exhibition and Sharjah Art Museum presents the long-term exhibition Century in Flux: Highlights from the Barjeel.


Cover photo/Custot Gallery Dubai (Dubai), Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai 2019, Courtesy of Photo Solutions