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Art Dubai 2014 – another page in history
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 05 - 04 - 2014

Saudi art scene makes an appearance at ‘Contemporary Kingdom' launch
Mariam Nihal
Saudi Gazette
Mohammed Hafiz, co-owner of Jeddah's Athr Gallery and Raneem Farsi, curator of 21,39 Jeddah Arts introduced a new dimension to Art Dubai at the launch of the book ‘Contemporary Kingdom'.
The recently published book documents the shift in paradigm and the boom in Saudi Arabia's contemporary art scene. The intimate launch witnessed a group of art enthusiasts, galleries, curators, media officials, royals and aspiring artists.
Farsi spoke about the difficulties of setting up and giving life to 21,39 in Jeddah last month. She explained the journey that started with looking for a venue to host the art exhibit in Jeddah that included deserted malls to empty fields.
The book speaks volumes about the current status of the developing art scene in Saudi Arabia.
Farsi said it was initially a mission to convince established artists to showcase their works: “They were confused. They asked us why we want to do this.”
She said it is imperative to go back and learn the importance of artists and their works that depict real Islamic art and history of Saudi Arabia.
Hafiz is known to promote arts and culture of Saudi Arabia globally. His role is of an ambassador that facilitates and helps build platforms for dialogue between Saudi artists and the world. The eighth edition of Art Dubai was held between March 19-22, at Madinat Jumeirah. Art Dubai is held under the aegis of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and is the focal point of the region's booming art scene.
Last year the fair attracted 25,000 visitors, including 75 galleries from 30 countries. This year, featuring 85 galleries from 34 countries, over 500 artists participated in the art fair. Art Dubai is known to be the meeting point for art lovers, traders, collectors, curators and many aspiring and established artists.
Art Dubai featured works of well renowned international and local artists but also shed light on the new gentry that has made its impact on the region's art scene.
“The fair has acted as a catalyst, expediting Dubai's role as a bona fide cultural hub for the region and beyond. We're thrilled to be opening our eighth edition with such a strong and diverse range of 85 gallery exhibitions, plus our largest not-for-profit program to date,” said Antonia Carver, Fair Director, Art Dubai.
The galleries were categorized into Contemporary, Modern and Marker. Art Dubai's contemporary gallery had more than 70 galleries exhibiting new works for sale. Athr Gallery (Jeddah), Ayyam Gallery (Dubai, Jeddah, London), Galerie Chantal Crousel (Paris), Galerist (Istanbul), Grey Noise (Dubai), Victoria Miro (London), Experimenter (Kolkata), among others. Ota Fine Arts (Tokyo), GallerySKE (Delhi/Bangalore), Marisa Newman Projects (New York), 313 Art Project (Seoul) were debutants this year along with many others.
Modern was dedicated to Middle Eastern and South Asian modern art from the twentieth century and it included 11 galleries including, M.F. Husain (Aicon Gallery, New York/London), Rasheed Araeen (Grosvenor Gallery, London) and Anwar Jalal Shemza (Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai), among others.
Marker, was dedicated to Central Asia and the Caucasus. It included ArtEast (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan); Asia Art (Almaty, Kazakhstan); North Caucasus Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Art, artists' books published in collaboration with Onestar press among others.
Ayyam gallery presented works by Samia Halaby, Safwan Dahoul, Nadim Karam, Sama Alshaibi and Athier. Jeddah's Athr Gallery showcased works by Saddek Wasil, Ahmed Mater, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Jowhara Al-Soud, Basmah Felemban, Hazem Harb, Sara Abdu, Ibrahim Abumsmar, Arwa Al-Neami, Ghada Al-Rabea, Dana Awartani and Nasser Al-Salem.
The show included commissioned projects and performances, artists' and curators' residencies, Global Art forum, exhibitions for upcoming artists, radio and film, and works by winners of the annual The Abraaj Group Art Prize.
Art Dubai also scored profits for various galleries like The Third Line, had a sale approximately $200,000 to the Suha Islam Family Collection and Jaeger Bucher that sold Zarina Hashimi's Tasbih for $60,000 among others.
Art Dubai, is held in partnership with The Abraaj Group and is part of Art Week, the week that hosts Design Days Dubai, during the most culturally dynamic period of art in the UAE.
Being the strategic partner of Art Dubai, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority supports the year-round education program. Sikka, is an art and cultural fair run by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). It showcased works by new designers, while featuring 40 new exhibitions across Al Quoz and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

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