Established by The Abraaj Group, a leading private equity investor, to support contemporary artists of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, The Abraaj Group Art Prize invested in and has given resources to artists to develop their practice by realising a unique project. The prize reflects Abraaj’s own investment philosophy, which is to take viable businesses with great potential, and create regional and global champions.
Murtaza Vali, Curator
Hrair Sarkissian is a photographer, living and working in London. He visited and shot at hundreds of photography studios in six major Middle Eastern cities—Alexandria, Amman, Beirut, Byblos, Cairo and Istanbul—before selecting the images that form Background, which marks the eclipse of a tradition of studio portraiture integral to the twentieth century history of photography in the Middle East.
A Very Short History of Tall Men commemorates the forgotten leaders of failed coups d’état through miniature gold statues entombed in clear acrylic spheres. He has exhibited throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the US. Avakian is a founding member of the art collective Atfal Ahdath and a member of the Arab Image Foundation.
Rayyane Tabet’s work is concerned with researching hidden histories that are transformed and retold through objects and installations. FIRE/CAST/DRAW is a sprawling floor piece comprised of thousands of unique lead pieces, inspired by art history, numismatics, folklore and superstition and the Middle East’s conflict-ridden recent past.
The Miraculous Lives of This and That is a twenty-first century Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, slightly larger than life, full of objects such as taxidermy animals and porcelain imitations of cheap plastic dolls, meditating on the mortality of all things.