Abu Dhabi Art back in its physical form at Manarat Al Saadiyat - GulfToday

Abu Dhabi Art back in its physical form at Manarat Al Saadiyat


Viewers take a close look at Abu Dhabi Art.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Held under the patronage of Sheikh Khaled Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, the 13th edition of Abu Dhabi Art Fair has opened to the public (Nov. 17 - 21) at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi.

Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT - Abu Dhabi), it returns with a bang in its physical form, featuring a diverse line-up of 49 galleries from 19 countries, representing more than 190 artists from around the globe, and presenting over 600 artworks.

This year’s edition features 14 new galleries joining from Colombia, France, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, as well as a curated fair programme experience, including Kind of Blue, a curated sector for the art fair by Simon Njami; the Performing Arts Programme, curated by Rose Lejeune; and the Beyond: Emerging Artists programme, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. Bardaouil and Fellrath are co-founders of multidisciplinary curatorial platform Art Reoriented and co-directors of the Hamburger Bahnhof museum.


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Abu Dhabi Art has invited last year’s guest curators, Njami and Lejeune, to bring their new curatorial frameworks and research to the fair. Commenting on this year’s edition of the fair, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi said: “Gathering safely in-person for this 13th edition of Abu Dhabi Art in Manarat Al Saadiyat is a testament to the collective efforts of those across the arts and culture sector of Abu Dhabi and beyond.”  Dyala Nusseibeh, Director, Abu Dhabi Art, said: “Abu Dhabi Art has officially opened with a near record number of 49 galleries presenting exceptional booths, which speaks to the thriving art community in the UAE and the support shown here in Abu Dhabi for artists and galleries during the pandemic.”

Highlights of the fair include: The Modern & Contemporary gallery sector, featuring 26 galleries from 15 countries around the world, presenting a wide range of works by different artists. The Special Projects gallery sector, featuring 21 galleries from six countries, presenting curated booths by one, two or three artists. In Kind of Blue, Njami spotlights artists and galleries under the new curatorial framework. It positions jazz music as a metaphor for the open-ended parameters of the exhibition and presents works from four participating galleries: Afriart Gallery (Kampala, Uganda), representing Richard Atugonza and Charlene Komuntale; Galerie MAM (Douala, Cameroon), representing Bili Bidjocka and Joël Yonkeu; Primo Marella Gallery (Milan, Italy), representing Abdoulaye Konaté and Sabrina Amrani (Madrid, Spain), representing Nicène Kossentini and Joël Andrianomearisoa.

Dyala Nusseibeh, Director, Abu Dhabi Art.

The Performing Arts Programme is curated by Lejeune and brings four new performance commissions by Louise Hervé & Clovis Maillet, Mays Albaik, Rand Abdul Jabbar and Super Taus, each of whom are offering an abstract and poetic experience.

Gateway sees the fair in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF). The National Pavilion UAE – La Biennale di Venezia is showcasing Passage, an immersive video and sound installation created by artist Nujoom Alghanem for the Pavilion’s 2019 exhibition at the Venice Biennale.  Passage premieres in the UAE as part of Abu Dhabi Art’s annual Gateway sector, which highlights local and international artists through a globally relevant curatorial framework. The exhibition then goes on show as part of and ADMAF’s 2022 flagship exhibition, Portrait of a Nation II.

The Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021 section presents new works by three UAE-based emerging artists — Hashel Al Lamki presenting Neptune; Maitha Abdalla presenting Too Close to the Sun, and Christopher Joshua Benton presenting The World was my Garden.

Their exhibition is on show at Manarat Al Saadiyat till December 4. This year’s programme is also the inaugural commission of Abu Dhabi Art’s newly launched initiative, Friends of Abu Dhabi Art.  Beyond: Artist Commissions sees five new art commissions, with works being shown in cultural sites in the capital by artists Aya Haidar presenting Dwelling On The Past, on display in Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain; Hazem Harb presenting Between Earth and Heaven: Borders are Only in our Minds, at Manarat Al Saadiyat and Jebel Hafeet Desert Park in Al Ain; Dr. Najat Makki presenting Ya Marhaba Al Saa’, at the entrance to Manarat Al Saadiyat and at the Al Ain Oasis; Rasheed Araeen, presenting a communal café made of eight gazebos, joined together in a square, titled Food for Thought – Thought for Change, opening at the entrance of Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Foundation throughout the fair and Richard Atugonza’s At Heart but Far, on display at Manarat Al Saadiyat and Jebel Hafeet Desert Park. The artists’ works remain on view till Jan. 22, 2022. At In & Around, commissioned artists for Beyond: Artist Commissions showcase large-scale artworks as part of the fair’s on-site programme, connecting fairgoers to the off-site projects. Other artists whose works are presented include Alfredo Jaar, Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Olga de Amaral, Seher Naveed, Siah Armajani, Zarina and Zineb Sedira.

Abu Dhabi Art is also offering art workshops, artist-led masterclasses, tours in English and Arabic and competitions for the community for all ages.

Workshops include 3 – 5yrs old Drop-in workshops; 6 – 12 yrs old Hands-on art activities and Artist-led masterclasses, for both adults and teens (ages 13+). Complimentary 45-minute educational and interactive guided tours led by a Visitor Experience Specialist are available both virtually and in-person, in Arabic and English. Virtual tours of the exhibitions and installations runs till January 22, 2022.  Abu Dhabi Art and Factory People are collaborating this year to bring 2ND SUN to Abu Dhabi with LIVE performances, DJ sets and futuristic productions (till Nov. 19) at Manarat Al Saadiyat.


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