The Art Dubai art fair in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) takes place in the luxurious Madinat Jumeirah leisure complex from March 21 – 24, taking local and international art fans under its wing for the sixth year. Last year the fair had 20,000 visitors – roughly the same amount that attended Art Moscow in 2011 (while art market heavyweights The Armory Show in New York this spring and London’s Frieze fair in autumn last year were seen by over 60,000 people).
Madinat Jumeirah. Photo: Art Dubai
This year, the Art Dubai gallery show features 75 participants from 32 countries. Taking part, among others, are the famous The Pace Gallery (London, New York, Beijing), as well as Galerie Perrotin (Paris), Goodman (Johannesburg), the Rodolphe Jassen gallery (Brussels) and Galerie Chantal Crousel (Paris), all highly renowned in the art world.
Artist Faig Ahmed. (c) Kim-Leng Hills
Faig Ahmed, Aidan gallery, Moscow
The only representative of the Russian region is the Aidan gallery, established in 1992 by one of Moscow’s first gallerists – Aidan Salakhova. The Aidan gallery regularly takes part in significant contemporary art fairs, such as the above mentioned Art Moscow and The Armory Show, as well as ARCO (Spain), FIAC (France), etc. The gallery has brought the work of talented Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed (1982) to Art Dubai – ‘paintings’ reminiscent of woven and then artistically transformed Turkish carpets. In 2007, Faig Ahmed represented his country in the 52nd Venice Art Biennale. Azerbaijan’s pavilion at last summer’s 54th Venice Biennale, on the other hand, was created by the owner of the Aidan gallery herself, Aidan Salakhova, who also works as an artist. Many may remember the cloth-covered sculptures that the Azerbaijani president considered an insult to Islam after viewing the pavilion.
Russian artist Alexander Kosolapov by one of his most famous works – the bronze sculpture Hero, Leader, God (2006-2007). At the Art Dubai fair Kosolapov is represented by Galerie Hussenot from Paris.
Although no other galleries from Russia are taking part in Art Dubai this year, the following Russian artists are represented by several foreign galleries: Alexander Kosolapov (Galerie Hussenot, Paris), Valery Koshlakov (Krinzinger gallery, Vienna), Erik Bulatov (Galerie Piece Unique, Paris) and Taus Makhacheva (Impronte Contemporary Art, Milan). Baltic and Scandinavian galleries are not taking part in the fair this year.
Russian artist Erik Bulatov (1933) is represented at Art Dubai by Galerie Piece Unique from Paris. The image shows Bulatov’s 2010 painting La Retour
Also worth mentioning are the two prizes awarded during Art Dubai.
Firstly, The Abraaj Capital Art Prize, whose winners were just announced on the afternoon of March 20. The prize is unique in its status as the only art award aimed solely at artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Additionally, it awards proposals, not actual works of art (acting as support for the materialization of these ideas), and the prize is presented to a curator and artist partnership instead of to an individual author.
The second award, new this year and to be presented for the first time, is the John Jones Art on Paper Award, its jury including curator and co-director of London’s Serpentine Gallery Hans-Ulrich Obrist, artist of Palestinian origin Janah Hilwé (1943), once ironically named “the witch of contemporary art”, and prominent art critic from Beirut, Kaelen Wilson-Goldie. Any artist taking part in the Art Dubai gallery show whose work involves paper is eligible for the prize. The winner will be given the opportunity to hold a solo exhibition in Dubai within the next year, as well as a cash prize of AED 30,000 (approximately LVL 4000), and the winning piece will be acquired by the John Jones Contemporary Art Collection in London. The winner will be announced on March 21.
This year, Art Dubai is being held within Dubai Art Week, providing a wonderful opportunity to enjoy other significant creative projects alongside the fair. This is a successful format for raising awareness of trends in the specific region’s art, and has become an integral part of art fairs all over the world.
From Marker, the fair’s Indonesian art exhibition. Birdprayers, Arya Pandjalu and Sara Nuytemans. 2008‐2011
For more on the Art Dubai programme, including the Global Art Forum, the special Indonesian arts scene exhibition Marker, and other events, please see the fair’s website: www.artdubai.ae