What To Expect From the 2022 Edition of Art Dubai

Lindsay Judge   |   10-03-2022

As Art Dubai prepares for its 15th edition this month, Pablo del Val, Artistic Director, Art Dubai gives an insight into what to expect from the biggest event yet.


Over the past 15 years, Art Dubai has become a regional hub for emerging and established artistic talent to showcase their work and offer an insight into what this region has to offer when it comes to the world of art and culture. After taking a break due to COVID-19 in 2020 and hosting a much smaller event in 2021, this month Art Dubai returns and it’s going to be bigger and better than ever with works from over 100 exhibitors from 44 countries on display. This year’s event plans to further reinforce Dubai’s emergence as an international hub for art and culture and a major contributor to conversations about contemporary art. It will look at new technologies in the art world and open discussions on the future of the sector and how it is advancing. Here we find out more about what to expect from this year’s event with Art Dubai’s Artistic Director, Pablo del Val.


What can we expect from the 2022 edition of Art Dubai? 

Visitors can expect a lot from this year’s fair as it will be the most extensive edition of Art Dubai to date, showcasing work from 100 galleries from 44 countries, with more than half of those coming from the Global South, alongside strong representation from South Asia and Africa. The exhibitions will showcase new work from several young and cutting-edge international galleries, including more than 30 first-time participants and a curated selection of 17 top international galleries and platforms as part of a new main gallery section: Art Dubai Digital.



Is there a specific theme for this year’s edition and what is the message behind this theme? 

We do not operate with a specific theme each year, but we try to interconnect all that happens outside the gallery halls around a common idea. For example, we touch upon community building through installations like the one of our commissioned artists this year Fernando Garcia-Dory up to the digital works on metaverse.


This year, we are pleased to be launching Art Dubai Digital, which will be a highlight of the 2022 show and an exciting new section of the fair including presentations by galleries and platforms from all over the world that specialise in digital art and NFTs. Our decision to create Art Dubai Digital aligns with and supports Dubai’s vision as it transforms into one of the world’s leading crypto-hubs, becoming home to an entirely new generation of collectors and entrepreneurs from all over the world.


TEMPLON Gallery – Courtesy of Art Dubai


What are some must-see activities at this year’s event? 

As we’ve already mentioned, Art Dubai Digital will bring a new and exciting focus to this year’s fair and will certainly be a highlight. In addition to our extensive global collection of artworks, visitors can enjoy Art Dubai’s commission for 2022, “INLAND”, represented by Fernando Garcia-Dory, who will present a new multi-site installation at the fair and in a variety of locations across Dubai.


“Sand Flow” will manifest in a range of places and moments, combining visions of Dubai’s past, present and future and examining the ways in which the multiplicity of cultures and communities inhabit the city and their contributions to it. The artwork will incorporate archaeology, hydrology, urbanism and transport as well as the Middle East’s rich oral storytelling traditions, heritage and crafts.


In addition, Art Dubai 2022 will also host a number of talks, programmes and workshops including;


Art Dubai Modern Talks (10th-12th March), this year held in partnership with the Dubai Collection, will examine the life, work and influences of 20th-century Modern masters from the Middle East and North Africa.


The A.R.M. Holding Children’s Programme aims to provide UAE based children with opportunities to grow and develop their interest and understanding of the arts by familiarising them with a wide range of art and design practices and interacting with a roster of international artists. This year, their activity with artist Cyrus Kabiru will reach over 80 schools and more than 5,000 students beyond the fair.


Gallery 1957 – Courtesy of Art Dubai


Byit Talks, an eclectically curated series of conversations presented by the titular and leading cryptocurrency exchange, will give visitors a greater understanding of the rapid growth in digital platforms, inviting guest speakers to explain more about the basics of cryptocurrency, digital media and NFT art. Participants will include Tamas Banovich, co-founder of Postmasters; Seth Goldstein, co-founder of Bright Moments and Jenn Ellis, co-founder of Aora Space.


Julius Baer has commissioned Filipino-American light and media artist James Clar (Silverlens) to create an interactive video installation entitled Cloud Seed, for the Julius Baer lounge at the fair. The installation will immerse visitors in a large-scale real-time simulation of raindrops and fog, using custom technology to create a slowly morphing visual system that reflects our control of the environment.


Around Town – Art Dubai Week 

Art Dubai Week takes place during the final month of Dubai Expo 2020 with a range of solo and group exhibitions taking place across the city.


Highlights include Jitish Kallat: Order of Magnitude at Ishara Foundation; A Slightly Curving Place, curated by Nina Ghouse, at Concrete, Alserkal Avenue; two important solo shows: Taus Makhacheva: A Space of Celebration and Fahd Burki: Daydreams at Jameel Arts Centre.


Sharjah Art Foundation will present Lawrence Abu Hamdan: The Sonicthe largest solo exhibition of the artist’s works to date, including a major new commission Air Conditioning and a site-specific performance. When Images Speak: Highlights from the Dubai Collection continues at the Etihad Museum, featuring a selection of nearly 70 modern and contemporary artworks drawn from the collections of 11 patrons of Dubai Collection, the first institutional art collection of its kind.


The last couple of years it has been difficult to host physical events due to COVID-19 – how has this time given you the opportunity to develop and progress with the concept and have you changed anything about the event? 

Art Dubai is likely to be one of the very few art events taking place in spring 2022 and so it’s important to us that we do everything we can to support those who depend on a vibrant and dynamic global art sector. We worked hard to create a smaller edition of the fair last year, and we’re pleased to be back at full capacity with our most extensive programme to date this year. It is also important that we continue to use arts and culture as a creative forum in a physical environment to bring people together to view, discuss, and buy art. We are excited to open this year’s event to welcome collectors, institutions and artists who are keen to showcase what they’ve been incubating over the past two years.


Why do you think this platform is attracting so much talent and what do you think the artists gain from being part of Art Dubai?

For over 15 years now, Art Dubai has played a fundamental role in the development of the region’s creative landscape and has become a leading platform for presenting and collecting art from the region. The fair has a strong and loyal following and Dubai has become a thriving gallery scene and collector’s community.


There is more world-class cultural activity than ever in Dubai, including Jameel Arts Centre and the forthcoming Museum of the Future. Expo 2020 Dubai is drawing huge numbers of people to the city too. In addition to this, there is also a drive for new cultural initiatives of different kinds. Dubai Collection, which we run in partnership with Dubai Culture and Arts Authority is one of them.


In support of the rapidly expanding arts and culture scene, Dubai has been able to develop a commercial proposition and establish a strong commercial sector, supporting a growing number of institutions that are being born and flourishing in other cities.


Galería Albarrán Bourdais – Courtesy of Art Dubai


What can you tell us about the Art Dubai Digital sector and why did you feel it was important to introduce this to the event? 

The digital art space and the art/NFT space, in particular, has seen huge growth over the last couple of years. We have always been a fair with innovation at our centre and we felt this would be the right moment to take a 360-degree look at the major global players in this space, from those that are digitally native and in the metaverse to galleries who have pioneered digital art since the 1980s.


As we have already mentioned, Dubai is rapidly becoming one of the world’s crypto-capitals and in support of this, our year-round education programme Campus Art Dubai, known as the 9.0 Blockchain Edition this year, will take on a digital focus as we mentor 13 UAE and international digital artists over an eight-week process, and these new artworks will be on display at the fair.


How do you think the world of art is changing due to digital art and NFTs and what does this mean for traditional art forms? 

NFTs are considered very new in the broader art landscape and although NFT technology has been around since 2017, we have only really seen a big adoption of them in the art market since 2020. Even then, it was still very fringe, with only a small subset of digital collectors from the crypto space purchasing NFTs. The various applications for blockchain technology and NFTs for artists are just beginning and it’s a hugely exciting time in this space.


How do you think Art Dubai helps to develop and foster regional artists and talent? 

For over 15 years now, Art Dubai has played a fundamental role in the development of the region’s creative landscape. We develop and foster regional artists and talent by providing a global platform, bringing together creative communities (including artists, galleries, curators, and institutions) from all over the world to Dubai, and we continue to be the leading platform for presenting and collecting art from, and by artists from, the region.


LoVid, ‘Hugs on Tape’, 2021, Medium Tapestry, digital animation NFT, Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery


What do you look for from an art piece? 

I relate to works that discuss and portray situations that can affect me as a human being. I relate to works that combine a certain aesthetic, a sense of poetry, and are confronting with an ability to portray my feeling and my phobias.


You have lived in many places, for you what is a region or culture that inspires you for its art?

In Spain, we say that one is from where he is grazing and not from where he is born. At this stage of my life, I’m inspired by Dubai and the Middle East. Having lived in many places, I came to this region years ago with important baggage on my shoulders. This baggage has helped me to understand and conceptualise the Dubai art scene in a much better way.


What do you think about the art scene in Dubai and how it is developing?

As we know, Dubai is booming right now, attracting an expanding international demographic. We are seeing a new generation of artists, collectors and entrepreneurs settling here thanks to Dubai’s geographical location and developed commercial hub. This has attracted a new wave of people to the city rich in experiences and culture, all of which are changing and shaping Dubai’s art scene. We see the art scene here gaining more credibility globally and that is an exciting concept for the future of Art Dubai.


What is something you would still like to see happen? 

I would like Dubai to become the home and working ground of exciting artists from all over the world, making it an open studio. But for this to happen, more institutions with programming and collection budgets will need to be open to the idea and support them.



What is a message you would send to our readers as to why they should visit this year’s edition of Art Dubai?

We are in this unique and important moment in time where so much is changing and there is so much great artistic talent and fascinating production coming out of this region. The 2022 edition of Art Dubai will be the most extensive to date which is why we would encourage as many readers as possible to join us at this year’s event.


Art Dubai will run from 11th to 13th March 2022 at Madinat Jumeirah. For more information and to register visit artdubai.ae.