Art Dubai: Exploring the contemporary
With 59 galleries from 34 countries, Art Dubai Contemporary once again confirms Art Dubai’s unique character as a platform for discovery for art from across the world, reaching across the globe to bring audiences narratives of contemporary life, observations on society and examples of richly varied practices.
First-time exhibitor Galerie MAM (Douala) bring with it Joël Mpah Dooh, a Cameroonian artist who uses experimental techniques such as scratching to create tactile pieces inspired by his environment and upon different surfaces. His abstract figures depict the ever-changing nature of urban life and they also combine the mysterious with the familiar, traditional with modern and offer a window into the nuanced life of a globalised world.
In this respect, Mpah Dooh’s work is a reflection upon the entire fair’s preoccupation, which Artistic Director of Art Dubai, Pablo del Val has termed “the Perception of Others”: an attempt to shed light upon that intersection of narratives across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East – ‘the Global South’ – and the globalised realities of those in the West.
Echoing the figurative abstract art of Mpah Dooh but with his own kind of specifically fervent energy, Iranian-born Copenhagen-based Farshad Farzankia is producing a series of brand-new works for Art Dubai, to be unveiled by Andersen’s (Copenhagen). The gallery, one of Denmark’s leading spaces will also exhibit Tomas Saraceno, the first time his works have been shown in the Middle East. Saraceno is an Argentinian practitioner best known for his large-scale, interactive installations, which offer subtle commentary on environmental impact.
Zilberman Gallery (Istanbul) will have an 80 metre squared booth which includes ‘Operation Sunken Sea (the Anti-Control Room), an immersive installation by Egyptian Heba Y. Amin which debuted at the Berlin Biennale in 2018. Based on a true historical narrative called Atlantropa, which was a proposal for a giant engineering project to drain the Mediterranean Sea and united Europe and Africa as one continent, Amin’s nine-channel video wall imagines the artist herself as the mastermind of this plan. Speaking of the global immigration crisis as well as an unrealistic utopian ideal, the showcase will be a certain highlight of the contemporary halls.
Six galleries from Dubai exhibit in Art Dubai Contemporary this year. Lawrie Shabibi has an all-Emirati booth with the sculptures of Shaikha Al Mazrou showing alongside Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim’s paintings and papier-mache sculptures – both artists here are focused on formal language as well as offering a commentary on perception.
Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde (Dubai) will have a group presentation featuring the work of the Iranian, Dubai-based trio Rokni and Ramin Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian as well as Nargess Hashemi and Helah Redjaian. The gallery will also have works from Emirati giants Hassan Sharif and Mohammed Kazem as well as Vikram Divecha, an Indian artist whose practice is formulated around urban structures of commerce.
Dubai’s Green Art Gallery will exhibit a highly-anticipated hanging installation by American artist, Kathleen Ryan. Comprising industrial iron callipers cradling a cornucopia of plastic fruit and other banal objects, this work’s subject is that of consumerism and the copious amounts of trinkets with which we surround ourselves.
From India, first time exhibitor, Akar Prakar is one of the leading galleries and promoters of Indian art today. Alongside their fresh presentation, the gallery will also be launching four major books at the fair, including publications on Meera Mukherjee, Ganesh Haloi, and Jayashree Chakravarty as well as a volume on Indian crafts.
Zawyeh Gallery, from Ramallah in Palestine will exhibit a solo presentation of Rana Samara, a painter whose focus is on intimate spaces shedding light on women in conservative societies. Whist Voice Gallery from Marrakech shows a variety of artists – Eric van Hove, Hamdi Attia, M’Barek Bouhchichi, Michele Ciacciofera, who speak about identity and tradition as well as confrontational work about contemporary life.
Revealing a snap shot into the myriad existences and lives across all continents, Art Dubai Contemporary offers visitors the chance to traverse the globe and leave with an understanding of what it means to be alive today. “Geographies, galleries and artists, art typologies and thematics that are not often seen side-by-side, or even as part of the same conversation, will converge. We hope new that discoveries will be made and new synergies formed. And from that, the possibilities are endless,” said Pablo del Val.
Art Dubai. March 20-23, 2019. Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. artdubai.ae