Dubai played host to Art Dubai in March held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai. Eight years since inception the event is now considered the leading international art fair in the Middle East and South Asia, attracting tens of thousands of visitors. Joanna Andrews went to see what was drawing in the crowds.
Art Dubai 2014 featured leading art professionals from around the world alongside new talent. The art fair has become the cornerstone of the region’s fast-growing contemporary arts community. Last year some 25,000 visited Art Dubai. This year, even bigger than last, featured more than 85 galleries from 36 countries presented in three distinct categories: the largest section was Contemporary offering established and emerging contemporary artists from around the world; the newly launched Modern programme, devoted to 20th century masters from the Middle East and South Asia; and Marker, a curated section of art spaces from Central Asia and the Caucasus, celebrating the complexities of faith, identity and language in these regions. The work range from mid-20th century to more contemporary painting, drawings and sculptures.
“Art Dubai’s development over the past eight years reflects the extraordinary growth of the UAE arts scene,” said Antonia Carver, Fair Director, Art Dubai. “The fair has acted as a catalyst, expediting Dubai’s role as a bona fide cultural hub for the region and beyond. We’re thrilled to be opening our eighth edition with such a strong and diverse range of 85 gallery exhibitions, plus our largest not-for-profit programme to date.”
Art Dubai’s extensive not-for-profit programme included a dynamic roster of commissioned projects; artists’ and curators’ residencies; an exhibition of works by winners of the annual The Abraaj Group Art Prize; and the thematically-curated talks programme, the Global Art Forum. The winners of this years’ Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014 were Abbas Akhavan, Kamrooz Aram, Bouchra Khalili, Basim Magdy and Anup Mathew Thomas. The 2014 Guest Curator is Nada Raza.