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Nov 16 2018

Highlights from Abu Dhabi Art 2018

by Paul Laster
Lebanese artist MOUNIRA AL-SOLH’s painting Electric Peacock (2016) and pieces from her ongoing series of embroidered fabric drawings, My speciality was to make a peasants’ haircut, but they obliged me work till midnight often (2015–17), inspired by the stories of the lives left behind by displaced refugees, at Sfeir-Semler Gallery (Beirut / Hamburg).
Lebanese artist MOUNIRA AL-SOLH’s painting Electric Peacock (2016) and pieces from her ongoing series of embroidered fabric drawings, My speciality was to make a peasants’ haircut, but they obliged me work till midnight often (2015–17), inspired by the stories of the lives left behind by displaced refugees, at Sfeir-Semler Gallery (Beirut / Hamburg).
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Featuring 43 modern and contemporary art galleries from 17 countries, Abu Dhabi Art returned to Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Cultural District for its tenth edition, which runs through November 17, 2018. Attracting fewer high-profile, international galleries than it did in earlier years, the fair has become more of a regional showcase, and this year’s booths reflected that outlook.

The 2018 edition featured three gallery sections: Modern and Contemporary, for established galleries; Special Projects, for curated solo or two-artist booths; and Focus: Icons, highlighting important artists who have shaped and influenced contemporary art over the past 50 years and continue to inspire young artists today. The Omar Kholeif-curated Focus: Icons section, one of the strongest presentations in the exhibition hall, presented figurative paintings by Huguette Caland at Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian’s iconic mirror mosaics at The Third Line, Emirati multidisciplinary artist Mohammed Kazem’s paintings and works on paper at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, and abstract sculptures by Mona Saudi at Lawrie Shabibi.

Other standout presentations this year are the fair’s new commissions—including Cairo-based artist Moataz Nasr’s mixed-media tower structures and Emirati artist Ahmed Saeed Al Areef Al Dhaheri’s animation about the mystical relationship between the United Arab Emirates’ past and present—which were peppered throughout the hall. A series of large-scale installations by artists represented by exhibiting galleries, such as Anila Quayyum Agha from Aicon Gallery, were also given pride of place at the fair. Meanwhile, Monira al-Qadiri, who was commissioned to provide works for the fair’s 2018 visual campaign, had several of her oil-industry-inspired glass works on display in the entrance hall and a variety of her other drill-head pieces displayed on Abu Dhabi Art’s products and publicity posters throughout the United Arab Emirates.

Emirati artist RAWDHA AL-KETBI’s assemblage, Transitional (2018), exploring issues of migration and made from a discarded oil barrel, car tire rim, found plant, and LED lights, at Zayed University College of Arts and Creative Enterprises (Abu Dhabi).
Emirati artist RAWDHA AL-KETBI’s assemblage, Transitional (2018), exploring issues of migration and made from a discarded oil barrel, car tire rim, found plant, and LED lights, at Zayed University College of Arts and Creative Enterprises (Abu Dhabi).
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Paul Laster is a New York desk editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

Abu Dhabi Art runs until November 17, 2018, at the Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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