I recently paid my third annual visit to the 12th Art Dubai expo in Dubai, UAE, which is slowly claiming its stake as a global art hub.
It was held from March 21-24 at the wonderful Madinat Jumeirah, under Myrna Ayad and featured 78 galleries’ artworks from 42 countries.
The participating galleries were categorised as Contemporary, Modern and Residents, with Residents being the new addition this year. The works presented included painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, video, photography and performance.
Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) was the strategic partner this year and supported the fair’s year-round education programme, under the watchful patronage of Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-Chairman of Dubai Culture.
As the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, she has successfully supervised the vast expansion and modernisation Dubai’s cultural scene is gradually going through.
The fair boasted an extensive display of 20th century masters from across the globe, as part of Dubai Culture’s ongoing Dubai Art Season 2018.
It is an excellent initiative which houses a culture of imagination and creativity, showcasing a wide array of innovative projects, both regional and global. All the top artists, critics and collectors gathered under one roof to witness what Art Dubai had to offer.
I was particularly fascinated by a performance under the Global Art Forum, titled “I Am Not A Robot”, which explored the impact of automation, artificial intelligence and the rise of machines through open conversations and panel discussions.
A programme designed for children, the Sheikha Manal Little Artists Programme, was also worth witnessing as it was Art Dubai’s non-commercial programme designed for children and teenagers by international and UAE-based artists, designed to encourage young ones to involve themselves in the art.
Another noteworthy feature was a tour by Swiss luxury watchmaker Piaget, naming it “Sunlight Journey” at the Madinat Jumeirah. Marking their third showcase at Art Dubai, Piaget presented their latest high jewelry and watch-making collection.
Despite being touted as Middle East’s premier art fair, Asia had a pretty strong display this year.
One thing that Bangladesh and myself can particularly be proud of is that Dubai-based The Third Line also sold out all works at a solo presentation from 2017 Abraaj Group Art Prize winner Rana Begum. Most of the pieces by the Bangladeshi artist apparently sold on the first day of the fair, with prices ranging from US$8,300 to US$35,000.
Overall, the early take-away from this year’s Art Dubai is that it is a fair comfortable in its niche as a regional leader.