Art Dubai’s 13th Edition Closes

  • The 13th edition presented the fair’s most internationally diverse programmeto date with a particular focus on the Global South
  • New section UAE NOW spotlighted independent home-grown subcultures, profiling UAE’s evolving and diverse cultural landscape
  • A meeting point for art professionals and collectors from all over the world, Art Dubai hosted a record number of collectors and institutions and launched the inaugural Curators Ideas Exchange Programme
  • Visitor numbers increased to 28,500 visitors throughout the fair; with galleries reporting strong sales
  • Art Dubai will return to Madinat Jumeirah from March 18-21, 2020


Dastan's Basement
Dastan’s Basement

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Art Dubai, the world’s most international art fair and the Middle East region’s most important commercial platform for art, closed its 13th edition to worldwide critical acclaim on Saturday March 23, 2019, with an increase of visitors to 28,500, and with galleries largely reporting strong sales across the fair’s five days.

Amongst the fair’s visitors were Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who, during his visit, affirmed the UAE as a home for artists and an incubator for talent and innovation, as well as raised Dubai’s position as one of the world’s most prominent hubs for creativity. HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, toured Art Dubai 2019’s preview day accompanied by Minister of State Zaki Nusaiba; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Etihad Museum, Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr; Governor of DIFC, Essa Kazim; and CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre and Director-General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Helal Saeed Al Marri, along with senior officials. HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mansour Al Nahyan, HH Sheikha Latifa Bint Mansour al Nahyan and HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mansour Al Nahyan inaugurated the Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program which returned to Art Dubai for its seventh edition, under the patronage of HH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment, and wife of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs UAE.

The fair’s redesigned layout and its most extensive programme of talks, including the internationally renowned trans-disciplinary arts summit Global Art Forum, tours, performance and music contributed to the fair’s success.

Art Dubai continues to develop original content to redefine what an art fair can be and contribute to the UAE and wider region’s cultural landscape. Reaffirming its position as the fair for the Global South, Art Dubai offered visitors greater access and deeper engagement with artists and galleries from non-Western geographies presenting a holistic platform where the gallery and community-driven programmes coalesced to showcase a view of art which is inclusive, rooted in discovery, the promotion of new and alternative perspectives, community building and cultural dialogue.

For 2019, Art Dubai presented the inaugural edition of its new gallery section Bawwaba (meaning gateway in Arabic), which featured ten solo presentations from artists from, based in, and/or focused on projects about Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Central and South Asia and resonating deeply with narratives around colonisation histories and contemporary experiences. Elsewhere in the fair, Art Dubai’s expanded Residents programme focused on Latin America with 12 artists from the continent’s leading galleries exhibiting new works for the fair which were created during short-term artist residencies in the UAE. Complementing Residents was SOLAROCA, a commission by Brazilian collective OPAVIVARÁ!, which invited visitors to mingle and engage in intercultural dialogue; and an after-dark music programme which mirrored the fair’s focus on the Global South.

Committed to providing an international platform for the UAE, Art Dubai’s introduced new segment, UAE NOW,  spotlighting local independent artist-run platforms and subcultures, their place in the UAE’s evolving landscape and contribution to creating new ways of thinking, theory and artistic movements. This year’s artists of Campus Art Dubai, the first programme of its kind in the UAE, comprising an intensive six-month seminar and residency programme for early-career UAE-based artists, showcased their new artworks under group show: “Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Contemporary Art in the City”. In partnership with The Cultural Office of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikha Manal Little Artist Program, now in its seventh edition, offered hands-on workshops and discovery tours through the fair to encourage young people to get involved and excel in the arts.

Initiated by the Art Dubai Group and supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the ninth edition of Art Week, which ran March 16-23, was testament to the UAE’s thriving and dynamic cultural scene, with over 500 events taking place over seven days across three Emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – a 25% increase in events. Art Week’s broad programme offered residents and visitors alike a packed programme of fairs and festivals, one-off happenings, special performances and installations and included the opening of new private institution, Ishara Art Foundation; SIKKA Art Fair; new exhibitions at Louvre Abu Dhabi; and the 16th Abu Dhabi Festival.

As the highlight of the region’s cultural calendar, Art Dubai exhibited the Ithra Art Prize 2019 winning commission, a prize supporting and promote emerging Saudi contemporary artists on a truly global platform developed by Art Dubai and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture; announced the India Pavilion at the forthcoming Venice Biennale of Art; and held a revised-format Modern Symposium which attempted to map out the cultural shifts and trends instigated by modernity in four key cities in the region during the 20th century – Baghdad, Beirut, Dakar and Lahore.

A meeting point for art professionals and collectors from all over the world, Art Dubai hosted a record number of international institutional representatives and launched the inaugural Curators Ideas Exchange Programme with the aim to strengthen and activate new local, regional and global networks that add value to the region’s cultural dialogue and the fair’s DNA as a multicultural hub. The Curators Ideas Exchange Programme offered key UAE institutions and independent spaces – such as Jameel Arts CentreTashkeelNYU Abu Dhabi Art GallerySalama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation – with a platform to present and highlight their varied missions and programmes.

“Art Dubai has once again showcased the richness of our regional arts scene. It is a great privilege for us to collaborate with Art Dubai to expand the local arts agenda and push the boundaries of creative storytelling, whether through partnering on the Residents program to immerse and inspire international artists in our creative spaces, or to representing Warehouse421 at the Curator’s Ideas Exchange Programme. We look forward to working with our new connections and are inspired to further develop the cultural scene in Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE,” said Faisal Al-Hassan, General Manager of Warehouse421.

More than 130 international institutional representatives participated in the programme including museum directors and curators from some of the world’s leading museums, as well as independent professionals working in key non-profit organisations and biennales that are delivering some of the most cutting-edge exhibitions globally. These included museum leadership from the UK, the USA and France, such as the Tate and Serpentine Galleries (London), Guggenheim and MoMA (New York), LACMA (Los Angeles), the Pompidou (Paris) and LUMA Arles. Crucially, especially given the focus that Art Dubai 2019 placed on the Global South, this representation also extended outside of the more developed art markets to key regional institutions across Africa, South Asia and Australasia. These include Zeitz MOCAA and Norval Foundation (Cape Town), Centre for Contemporary Art (Lagos), Kiran Nadar Museum (New Delhi), M Woods Museum (Beijing), Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), MACAN Museum (Jakarta), and MACAAL (Marrakech), among others.

“It was such an amazing experience to meet with fellow curators from all over the world and to get to know the aspiring cultural scene in the UAE. I loved that you mixed up curators from institutions, directors as well as independent curators. The programme was really thought through!” Marianne Dobner, Curator, mumok (Vienna)

The most global and diverse of art fairs, Art Dubai 2019 showcased 92 galleries from 42 countries, displaying 500 artists from 80 nationalities across its four gallery sections: Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai Modern, Bawwaba and Residents. This year’s Art Dubai Contemporary featured 59 galleries from 34 countries spread across its two gallery halls presenting work by some of the most notable contemporary artists working today. Art Dubai Modern – the only platform in the world dedicated to museum-quality works by 20th Century Modern masters from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia – was presented for the first time alongside Art Dubai Contemporary, giving context to the historical narrative being played out across the booths.

Exhibiting galleries particularly praised Art Dubai’s global reach, knowledge of its audiences, and the fair’s unique role as a meeting point for the local, regional and international art worlds.

“Sales have been good – we have sold several works including two significant pieces. The highlight of the fair has been the new contacts made including notable institutions – Art Dubai’s strength is the programme to draw collectors and curators from all over the world, facilitating connections and introductions. We also support the “Global-South” focus which the fair has adopted and this is one of the main reasons for our participation. This has been a totally new and worthwhile experience for us,”  said Baylon Sandri, Director, SMAC Gallery (Johannesburg / Cape Town / Stellenbosch), exhibiting for the first time. (Further comments below.)

Art Dubai will return to Madinat Jumeirah from March 18-21, 2020. 

Art Dubai is sponsored by Julius Baer and Piaget, with Madinat Jumeirah as the home of the event. The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is a strategic partner of Art Dubai and supports the fair’s year-round education programme. Global Art Forum and Residents is supported by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. BMW is the exclusive car partner of Art Dubai.

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