Abu Dhabi Art Showcases Artists From Its Beyond Emerging Artists At The Venice Biennale

Emma Hodgson   |   31-05-2024

Abu Dhabi Art has gone from strength to strength over recent years. Since 2017, Abu Dhabi Arts Beyond Emerging Artists (BEA) programme has provided three emerging artists in the UAE with a platform from which to develop their practice and create ambitious art projects. The artists participate in a year-long programme of workshops and studio visits under the mentorship of a guest curator, before showcasing their works at the annual Art Fair in November at Manarat Al Saadiyat. The curator for this edition of the BEA programme is art historian, publisher, and curator Morad Montazami. 

Now, for the 60th anniversary of the Venice Biennale, the leading UAE creative hub has expanded its reach to the Italian city for the second consecutive year to showcase the work of three artists from its BEA programme. 

The exhibit in Venice is designed to introduce emerging UAE-based artists to a global audience. In timing the exhibition to coincide with La Biennale di Venezia, Abu Dhabi Art offers the young artists an opportunity to exhibit their work on an international stage and engage with art professionals, collectors, and fellow artists. 

This years artists include Almaha Jaralla, Samo Shalaby, and Latifa Saeed, who are exhibiting their work at Marignana Arte Gallery in Venice until the 15th of May, coinciding with the internationally recognised spectacular art fair, which this year holds the theme of Foreigners Everywherethis year. Find out more about the three young creatives, leading the way in the UAE art scene below. 

Almaha Jaralla

This up-and-coming Emirati conceptual artist explores different eras in the countrys recent history through her work. The fast-changing landscape in the UAE – and in particular, Abu Dhabi, the city she grew up in – has been a key influence fo the young artist. Part of her work is inspired by the generational dialogue she has had with those who came before her and remembers the country at different stages in the 20th century, including her father and grandmother. She explores these themes through a mix of photography and paint, and work which is both tangibly layered in craft as well as in symbolic meaning. Indeed, when discussing her participation in the exhibition in Venice, she drew upon the historic ties between the Arab World and Europe.Showing in Venice with Abu Dhabi Art is really interesting for me because of the history of pearl trading between our part of the world and Europe – in particular Venice. Pearl diving was crucial for our economy before the oil boom that was to change our urban fabric. As our towns and cities transform even further, how will we remember the architectural remains of our not-so-distant past, that are already disappearing? Venice, like Abu Dhabi, is an island but whilst we grapple with radical change, in what seems an incredibly short time frame, Venice has suffered centuries of flooding and damage to its buildings and architecture. I think there are interesting conversations to be held about the architecture of both places, about the context of showing my exhibition, Crude Memory, in Venice.”


Latifa Saeed

Latifa Saeed is an Emirati multidisciplinary artist who has had a powerful impact on the regional art scene in recent years. Following her Arts and Sciences degree which she graduated from in 2007, she was selected for the Emerging Artist Fellowship by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation in partnership with Rhode Island School of Design in 2019 in the city ​​of Abu Dhabi. The artist then went on to win a grant from the Misk Art Institute in Riyadh in 2021, where she participated in the group show Under Construction” at The Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Hall in Riyadh. During the same year, the talented Emirati artist was also selected as a finalist of the Richard Mille Art Prize hosted by the Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Herein 2021 and participated in their group show Memory, Time, Territory.” Latifa was recently the first Emirati artist to showcase her work in Almaty, Kazakhstan with a solo exhibition Black Silhouette” curated by the renowned art historian, critic, and author, Valeria Ibraeva. Discussing her participation in the exhibit in Venice, Saeed said: I am most excited about the opportunity to weave my narrative into the rich tapestry of this global cultural haven. For emerging artists, such opportunities are vital; they offer a global stage, fostering growth and dialogue. Visitors to Venice can expect my work to be a reflection and representation of my regions essence, I will be showcasing a dissection of a natural phenomenon observed in the Gulf desert landscape under the title Dust Devils, creating a dialogue between nature and innovation.”

Samo Shalaby

Palestinian-Egyptian artist Samo Shalaby grew up between Cairo and Dubai before winning a place at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College in London. While there, he was exposed to a multitude of different creative art forms. The artist is now based between London and Dubai and as a result of his diverse experience, his artistic explorations traverse the styles of antiquity, surrealism, and the grotesque, filtered through his own contemporary and personal lens. Discussing his participation in the Venice 2024 show, Shalaby said As an artist, being invited to exhibit in Venice is both an honour and an exhilarating opportunity to showcase my work on a global stage. I’m particularly excited to present What Lies Beneath,’ my latest installation that debuted at Abu Dhabi Art in November 2023. Through a fusion of personal narratives expressed through painting, installation, antiquity, and multimedia elements, I aim to create an immersive experience that invites viewers to explore the complexities of identity and perception.” Shalaby also stressed how important events such as the Venice Biennale were, for young artists such as himself, For emerging artists like myself, platforms like this are vital spaces where we can push boundaries, challenge conventions, and offer fresh perspectives on art and culture. As a Middle Eastern artist, it’s crucial to elevate diverse voices and bring them to global attention. I am grateful to the BEA platform for their support and advocacy for emerging artists, and I look forward to sharing my vision with audiences in Venice and beyond.”