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25 years of Arab creativity opens at Abu Dhabi Festival
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 10 - 03 - 2013

From left: Hoda Ibrahim Al Khamis-Kanoo, David Willets, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research, Farouk Hosni, Dominic Jermey, and Mona Khazindar during the opening of the festival.
A Paramount visual arts exhibition honoring 25 years of creativity in the Arab world was unveiled last Tuesday night at the opening ceremony of the 10th anniversary edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival, a four-week extravaganza of music, visual and performing arts that continues until March 31.
“25 Years of Arab Creativity” presents the most exhaustive panorama of contemporary Arab art to date, and features painting, sculpture, photography, video & installations, including works by 12 UAE artists.
The gala opening was inaugurated by Abu Dhabi Festival patron Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research; Hoda Ibrahim Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder & Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival; Farouk Hosni, former Minister of Culture for Egypt; Mona Khazindar, General Director of Institut du Monde Arabe (exhibition partner), the Rt Hon David Willets, UK Minister for Universities and Science, Alain Azouaou, French Ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Dominic Jermey, UK Ambassador to the UAE; and a selection of participating artists.
Distinguished guests and dignitaries were joined by hundreds of Emirati undergraduate students from the federal universities of Abu Dhabi, including applicants of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2013 Visual Arts Award, as well as art enthusiasts from across the UAE.
Curated by Ehab El Labban, the Egyptian artist, critic and gallerist, the carefully selected collection of innovative works by artists of Arab origin aims, in El Labban's words, ‘to paint a precise picture of the distinguishing traits of an Arab artist'. Inspired by personal experiences of evolving Arab societies, over 40 artists from 16 countries are exhibiting work from video and film to paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations.
Spanning over 1000 square meters, the exhibition was first presented in Paris in 2012 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Institut du Monde Arabe, (an ADMAF strategic international cultural partner). In its second edition, and Arab world premiere, at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Festival, visitors can experience a number of new works by the featured artists. To complement existing pieces by Sharjah-based Karima Al-Shomaly, and award-winning artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz, the capital's art lovers have the opportunity to view an additional section specially curated by the Abu Dhabi Festival that highlights the breadth and depth of Emirati visual arts practice. Entitled ‘Three Generations', a further ten home-grown Emirati talents are exhibited, including Sumayyah Al Suwaidi (the UAE's first female Emirati digital artist), Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi (an Al Ain-based self-taught photographer, graphic designer and writer), and Emirati artist and designer, Mohammed AlAstad Al Hammadi, among others.
Hoda I. Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, expanded on the need for major collective exhibitions: “The exhibition provides a window into the cultural currents of the region through the eyes of some of its most innovative and creative minds. Artists are essential to society. They challenge commonly held perspectives with innovative thinking. They raise awareness about social issues, break down barriers to cross-cultural understanding and global dialogue, and inspire creative ideas. The exhibition is therefore a reflection of where the Arab world has come from, where it is now, and where it is going. The audience we welcomed here today were enthralled by the range of styles, approaches and mediums used and equally excited by the surge of creative ideas and originality prevalent within each work. Given our continued emphasis on visual arts education, development, and practice, ‘25 Years of Arab Creativity' is a pillar of the Festival's 10th anniversary edition.”
The exhibition is open to public throughout the duration of the festival. — SG


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