DUBAI: From Nov. 22-26, Abu Dhabi’s Manarat Saadiyat will come alive with the 15th edition of Abu Dhabi Art. The fair’s largest edition to date, it will present 92 galleries from 31 countries.
Organized by the UAE’s Department of Culture and Tourism, this year’s edition is noteworthy not only for its breadth but also for its multicultural emphasis as it will place a special focus on galleries and artists from the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and beyond.
“Abu Dhabi is an international cultural hub and as a fair, we look in particular at attracting galleries from the Global South and giving these art histories prominence,” Dyala Nusseibeh, the fair’s director, told Arab News.
“For example, we are working with Maneli Keykavoussi on a ‘Focus’ sector on Latin America and with Chris Wan Feng on a special spotlight on modern and contemporary art histories from Hong Kong,” she added.
“We will present for the first time in the Middle East a great selection of modern and contemporary art from Hong Kong, reflecting its unique and rich historical context and the exciting contemporary art scene taking place now in the region,” Feng said in a released statement. “I am confident that the encounter and exchange with the audience of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair will further develop and strengthen our art dialogue between the two regions.”
The fair also takes place in the leadup to COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.
“At the same time, with the soon-to-take-place COP28, our 2023 edition sees an overarching focus throughout our programs on the environment and on sustainability, whether through our gallery ‘Focus’ sector presented by Riccarda Mandrini, our community projects on this theme helmed by Nadine Maalouf or some of our commissioned artists and works in ‘In and Around’,” said Nusseibeh.
The art fair is the conclusion of Abu Dhabi Art’s year-long visual arts program that looks to capture the burgeoning art scene in the regions of West Asia, North Africa and South Asia.
The 92 galleries include for the first time galleries from Georgia, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, and Chile.
“Each year, guest curators and artists are invited to contribute to the fair, which gives it a unique identity,” Nusseibeh noted. “Participating curators including Venetia Porter, Morad Montazami and Nicolas Bourriaud whilst artists include Hashel Al-Lamki, Samo Shalaby, Lateefa Seed, Almaha Jaralla, Nujoom Alghanem and our visual campaign artist for this year, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim.”
The fair is also taking place as the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza continues to rage.
“As a fair based in the region, our gallery presentations, particularly those showing works by Arab artists, inevitably offer perspectives and insights on this,” Nusseibeh told Arab News.
Nusseibeh highlighted works that will be shown by Ramallah-based Gallery One, including by artists Kamal Boullata, Walid Abu Shakra, Tayseer Barakat, Sliman Mansour and Samia Halaby.
Tabari Art Space is presenting a solo booth of new works by Palestinian Gaza-born artist Hazem Harb.
“These are an important, moving testimony to our times,” stated Nusseibeh.