Highlights from Art Dubai 2017

Lara Mansour   |   03-04-2017

As Art Dubai enters its second decade, the fair brought together 93 galleries from 44 countries to showcase the globally diverse works of more than 500 artists, acting as an important platform for discovering new artists. With diversity and nuance at the forefront, we have selected our highlights from the exhibition.


Abraaj Group Art Prize 2017

The Abraaj Group Art Prize invests in and has given resources to artists to develop their practice by realising a unique project, creating regional and global awareness. With a record number of applications from 61 countries, more than double the number received in 2016, the winner Rana Begum and the three shortlisted artists, Sarah Abu Abdallah, Doa Aly, and Raha Raissnia, were all women. The artists each had features at the exhibition, and also worked together to create a few specific pieces for the venue. Rana’s commission stems from a series of studies on MDF panels that focus on overlapping, transparent coloured planes which create a third layer of geometry and colour.


Interactive Installation by Meriem Bennani

Moroccan-born, Brooklyn based artist Meriem Bennani, created an interactive bar installation borrowing from playful strategies and designs that beauty salons, massage parlours or entertainment parks use to encourage social interaction amongst strangers. Titled ‘Ghariba/Stranger’, Bennani’s installation included viewing stations for videos showing video portraits of Moroccan women, encouraging visitors to interact and take part.


Art Dubai Modern Preview

For its 11th edition, and to complement the fair’s Modern hall, Art Dubai introduced the inaugural Art Dubai Modern Symposium, a series of talks and presentations focused on the life, work and cultural impact of 20th century masters from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. Renowned curators, scholars and patrons led the sessions that delved into the styles, influences and practices of artists whose work contributes to the history of art produced in the 20th century.


Global Art Forum

The theme for this year’s Global Art Forum was ‘Trading Places.’ The commissioner for the forum this year, Shumon Basar, talked about how we tend to think of trade as the exchange and movement of goods, but it is also the exchange of ideas. The theme came out of conversations about a secret painting and the history of trade between Sharjah and Iraq. The forum included interconnected topics about both art and trade, and was held at the Madinat Jumeirah’s For Island.


Cooking Liberty at The Room

Atfal Ahdath, an art collective of three progressive minds, which includes Vartan Avakian, Hatem Imam and Raed Yassin, created Cooking Liberty, which was hosted at The Room in Mina a’Salam. Seating 80 guests for two nights only, the performance-led dinner, taking its cue from Salvador Dali’s cookbook Les Diners de Gala, took guests on a journey with a surprisingly alternative drinks reception, followed by a grandiose twelve-courses banquet. The exhibit aimed to give visitors a surreal experience using exaggerated and repetitive video and audio, and the physical setup itself.


Gallery Hall Exhibits

Artwork was divided between two gallery halls, Art Dubai Contemporary and Art Dubai Modern. Art Dubai Contemporary featured 79 galleries from 41 countries, displaying the work of both emerging and established artists. Art Dubai Modern, now in its fourth edition, highlighted the work of influential artists from the MENASA region. According to International Director Pablo de Val, this year’s exhibits are more tightly curated and tailored, featuring solo exhibits and also overview collections by groups of artists.