Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Art Dubai, the world’s most international art fair and the Middle East region’s most important commercial platform for art, closed its 13th edition to worldwide critical acclaim on Saturday March 23, 2019. The fair saw an increase of visitors to 28,500 and galleries reported strong sales across each of the fair’s five days.
The fair’s redesigned layout and its most extensive programme of performance, tours, music and talks, including the internationally renowned trans-disciplinary arts summit Global Art Forum, contributed to the fair’s success.
Art Dubai continues to develop original content to redefine what an art fair can be and contribute to the UAE and wider region’s cultural landscape. Focused on presenting artists and galleries from across the Global South, Art Dubai offered visitors greater access and deeper engagement with art from non-Western geographies presenting a holistic platform where the gallery and community-driven programmes coalesced to showcase a view of art which is inclusive, rooted in discovery, the promotion of new and alternative perspectives, community building and cultural dialogue.
For 2019, Art Dubai presented the inaugural edition of its new gallery section Bawwaba (meaning gateway in Arabic), which featured ten solo presentations from artists from, based in, and/or focused on projects about Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Central and South Asia and resonating deeply with narratives around global migration, socioeconomic structures and identity as a gateway into artistic notions of ‘The Global South’. Elsewhere in the fair, Art Dubai’s expanded Residents programme focused on Latin America with 12 artists from the continent’s leading galleries exhibiting new works for the fair which were created during short-term artist residencies in the UAE. Complementing Residents was SOLAROCA, a commission by Brazilian collective OPAVIVARÁ!, which invited visitors to mingle and engage in intercultural dialogue; and an after-dark music programme which mirrored the fair’s focus on the Global South.
Committed to providing an international platform for the UAE, Art Dubai introduced a new segment, UAE NOW, spotlighting local independent artist-run platforms and subcultures, their place in the UAE’s evolving landscape and contribution to creating new ways of thinking, theory and artistic movements. This year’s artists of Campus Art Dubai, the first programme of its kind in the UAE, comprising an intensive six-month seminar and residency programme for early-career UAE-based artists, showcased their new artworks under group show: “Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Contemporary Art in the City”. In partnership with The Cultural Office of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikha Manal Little Artist Program, now in its seventh edition, offered hands-on workshops and discovery tours through the fair to encourage young people to get involved and excel in the arts.
Initiated by the Art Dubai Group and supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the ninth edition of Art Week, which ran March 16-23, was testament to the UAE’s thriving and dynamic cultural scene, with over 500 events taking place over seven days across three Emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – a 25% increase in events. Art Week’s broad programme offered residents and visitors alike a packed programme of fairs and festivals, one-off happenings, special performances and installations and included the opening of new private institution, Ishara Art Foundation; SIKKA Art Fair; new exhibitions at Louvre Abu Dhabi; and the 16th Abu Dhabi Festival.
As the highlight of the region’s cultural calendar, Art Dubai exhibited the Ithra Art Prize 2019 winning commission, a prize supporting and promote emerging Saudi contemporary artists on a truly global platform developed by Art Dubai and the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture; announced the India Pavilion at the forthcoming Venice Biennale of Art; and held a revised-format Modern Symposium which attempted to map out the cultural shifts and trends instigated by modernity in four key cities in the region during the 20th century – Baghdad, Beirut, Dakar and Lahore.
A global meeting point for art professionals and collectors from all over the world, Art Dubai hosted a record number of international institutional representatives and launched the inaugural Curators Ideas Exchange Programme with the aim to strengthen and activate new local, regional and global networks that add value to the region’s cultural dialogue and the fair’s DNA as a multicultural hub. The Curators Ideas Exchange Programme offered key UAE institutions and independent spaces – such as Jameel Arts Centre, Tashkeel, NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation – with a platform to present and highlight their varied missions and programmes.
More than 130 international institutional representatives participated in the programme including museum directors and curators from some of the world’s leading museums, as well as independent professionals working in key non-profit organisations and biennales that are delivering some of the most cutting-edge exhibitions globally. These included museum leadership from the UK, the USA and France, such as the Tate and Serpentine Galleries (London), Guggenheim and MoMA (New York), LACMA (Los Angeles), the Pompidou (Paris) and LUMA Arles. Crucially, especially given the focus that Art Dubai 2019 placed on the Global South, this representation also extended outside of the more developed art markets to key regional institutions across Africa, South Asia and Australasia. These include Zeitz MOCAA and Norval Foundation (Cape Town), Centre for Contemporary Art (Lagos), Kiran Nadar Museum (New Delhi), M Woods Museum (Beijing), Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), MACAN Museum (Jakarta), and MACAAL (Marrakech), among others.
The most global and diverse of art fairs, Art Dubai 2019 showcased 92 galleries from 42 countries, displaying 500 artists from 80 nationalities across its four gallery sections: Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai Modern, Bawwaba and Residents. This year’s Art Dubai Contemporary featured 59 galleries from 34 countries spread across its two gallery halls presenting work by some of the most notable contemporary artists working today. Art Dubai Modern – the only platform in the world dedicated to museum-quality works by 20th Century Modern masters from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia – was presented for the first time alongside Art Dubai Contemporary, giving context to the historical narrative being played out across the booths.
Exhibiting galleries particularly praised Art Dubai’s global reach, knowledge of its audiences, and the fair’s unique role as a meeting point for the local, regional and international art worlds.
Art Dubai will return to Madinat Jumeirah from March 18-21, 2020.
Art Dubai is sponsored by Julius Baer and Piaget, with Madinat Jumeirah as the home of the event. The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is a strategic partner of Art Dubai and supports the fair’s year-round education programme. Global Art Forum and Residents is supported by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. BMW is the exclusive car partner of Art Dubai.