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  • Feb 20, 2020



Nonprofit foundation Art Jameel has acquired 29 works commissioned by the Abraaj Group Art Prize between 2008 and 2018. Created by 31 winners of the award, the pieces will be housed primarily in Dubai’s Jameel Arts Centre.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize was established in 2008 under the patronage of the now defunct Dubai-based private-equity firm Abraaj Group. Before its demise in 2018 alongside that of the firm, the Prize was one of the most significant awards supporting artists from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia regions. Each year, the winner was given USD 100,000 for the production of a new work, which would debut in March at the fair Art Dubai—also sponsored by Abraaj—alongside projects by three other shortlisted artists who each received USD 10,000. Previous winners of the prize include multimedia artists Kader Attia, Wael Shawky, and Basim Magdy; conceptualist Nadia Kaabi-Linke; photographer and video artist Jananne Al-Ani; and sculptor Rana Begum. Multidisciplinary artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s film Walled Unwalled (2018), the last Abraaj Group Art Prize commission and part of the artist’s winning portfolio for his shared 2019 Turner Prize, is not part of the prize collection.

In March 2018, the Abraaj Group Art Prize had announced that a selection of its commissions would be exhibited at Jameel Arts Centre as part of a long-term loan. The arrangement was canceled when Abraaj Group filed for liquidation in June 2018, after it came to light that the company’s founder, Arif Naqvi, had misused investor funds to cover the firm’s losses. Separately, Abraaj had a privately held collection of Arab, Iranian, and South Asian art, which was auctioned off during the corporation’s liquidation process.

Regarding Art Jameel’s acquisition of the prize commissions, Antonia Carver, former director of Art Dubai and current director of Art Jameel, told The Art Newspaper: “For the first time [the collection] will have an institutional base. The potential for curation, scholarship, education, and storytelling is really exciting.”

Gaza-born, Paris-based Taysir Batniji’s paper work To My Brother (2012), based on 60 photographs of the artist’s sibling who was killed during the First Palestinian Intifada, will be the first project from the prize collection to be exhibited at Jameel Arts Centre, and will be on display in May.

Lauren Long is ArtAsiaPacific’s news and web editor.

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