Mar 21 2018

Highlights From Art Dubai 2018

by Ned Carter Miles

Ceramics and wood combine to suggest fragmented histories in these untitled 2017 works by SUDARSHAN SHETTY at the Galerie Templon (Paris, Brussels) booth. All photos by Ned Carter Miles for ArtAsiaPacific.

The 12th edition of Art Dubai—the world’s foremost showcase of art from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa—is upon us. This year’s event is the most international outing to date, featuring a record 105 galleries from 48 countries, with 28 of these being new participants, among them, first-time representatives of Ethiopia, Ghana and Iceland, as well as other countries.

The fair’s modern section deserves a special mention for the outstanding quality of works on display, foremost among which is a selection of frame-breaking, calligraphic works by the Algerian artist Mahjoub Ben Bella at the booth of Dubai’s Elmarsa Gallery. As for the contemporary section, the standard is high, with a refreshing balance between two and three-dimensional works, and an emphasis on quality rather than attention-grabbing outlandishness.

In addition to these sections, the fair’s 2018 iteration also sees the inauguration of “Residents,” an international residency program giving 11 artists the opportunity to create work inspired by the United Arab Emirates over the course of several months, culminating in solo presentations mounted in their own section at the fair. Among the participants were Indian artist Poonam Jain, Georgian artist Tato Akhalkatsishvili, Iranian painter and installation artist Farshad Farzankia, 
Indonesian painter Iabadiou Piko, Japanese sculptor and painter Yasuaki Onishi, Saudi artist Faris Alosaimi and Turkish painter Jennifer Ipekel.

As for other attractions, the Khaleeji artist collective GCC—whose members met previously at Art Dubai 2013—have taken over the usually exclusive dining space, “The Room,” with a more open installation than in previous years. For the duration of the fair, GCC has turned “The Room” into an immersive television studio, recreating tropes from shows broadcast across the Arab world, including a live cooking demonstration involving well-known wedding singer and TV chef Suliman al-Qassar, adding another dimension to the fair experience.

Art Dubai will also unveil a new work by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, winner of this year’s Abraaj Group Art Prize—now in its tenth edition—with the prize’s organizers announcing on the first morning that they will be loaning their collection of winning works from the past decade to the new Jameel Arts Centre, which will open on November 11 in Dubai. The fair’s 2018 edition has shaped up to be another exciting event. Here are some highlights.

A whole geography appears to emerge from this hanging work by VAL BRITTON, presented by Gallery Wendi Norris (San Francisco).
A whole geography appears to emerge from this hanging work by VAL BRITTON, presented by Gallery Wendi Norris (San Francisco).

Ned Carter Miles is the London desk editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

Art Dubai is being presented at the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, until March 24, 2018.

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