This is the fair’s biggest event to date, featuring 80 galleries from 28 countries.
The 14th edition of Abu Dhabi Art Fair is open to the public at Manarat Al Saadiyat from Wednesday 16 November until Sunday 20 November, 2022. Organized by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the fair returns with its largest and most diverse line-up to date. There are 80 galleries from 28 countries representing more than 300 artists from around the globe and presenting over 900 artworks. Abu Dhabi Art expands beyond the notion of a traditional art fair-from interactive performances to artist-led masterclasses and in-depth discussions led by art and culture experts.
With an overwhelming amount of works to see, here are some highlights of Abu Dhabi Art Fair 2022 we think you should experience:
Dr. Omar Kholeif, author, curator, broadcaster, and cultural historian, has curated My Life in the Metaverse, which is the first visual arts exhibition in the UAE to explore the historical connections, legacies and influences of Web3 technologies on art today. It immerses audiences into the life and mind of a semi-fictional character called Dr. O. The exhibition, which explores the borders of fact and fiction, narrates the metaverse through the story of Dr. O—a mythical character who finds their life subsumed into the bizarre contours of the so-called ‘metaverse’.
The exhibition offers viewers a gateway and a snapshot into all things ‘meta’ from the rise of Web3, i.e., NFTs, through to renewable energy, cryptocurrency, and the aesthetics of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Narrated collectively by a group of pioneering international artists, many of whom are presenting new artwork in Abu Dhabi, My Life in the Metaverse offers both a historical and contemporary dive into the shape of our collective future.
Beyond: Emerging Artists
Since 2017, this annual initiative aims to provide three emerging artists in the UAE with a platform from which to develop their practice and realize ambitious art projects. The selected artists are chosen by a guest curator each year. They undertake a year-long program of workshops and studio visits under the mentoring and the supervision of the curator which leads toward the realization of a project for the Abu Dhabi Art fair in November.
For 2022, three UAE-based emerging artists, Majd Alloush, Sarah Al Mehairi, and Mohamed Khalid, have created new commissioned works to be exhibited at the art fair in November. Each artist has brought their unique perspective to explorations of the notions of borders, home, man-made territories, and geographical mapping.
Majd Alloush explained his work, “In my work, I find myself studying borders as a concept, content and medium, by exploring geopolitics and social and environmental issues. I find myself rethinking the term ‘digital cartography’ and the meaning behind cartography in general.”
Mohamed Khalid commented on his commission saying, “My practice looks into the individual using mundane materials and trying to coax out their metaphorical potential.”
Sarah Al Mehairi explained, “Being on this journey with fellow artists and friends is special and gives us a unique space to be challenged and to grow together, as both a group and individually. I’m particularly excited to work with the scale and new forms in my practice and, through the process, have it translated into an artist’s book.”
Artist Commissions in Cultural Sites
An annual initiative that launched in 2017, Abu Dhabi Art invites established and well-known artists to create site-specific works in historic sites to activate these sites and draw new audiences to them. The 2022 commissions include new works by Abdullah Al Saadi, Marinella Senatore, Shilpa Gupta and Conrad Shawcross. These works will appear in Al Ain and at Al Hosn and Manarat Al Saadiyat.
Abdullah Al Saadi’s work Quipu Alphabet, displayed at Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain, is inspired by the Incan writing system of the same name. The artwork is composed of a series of colorful strings knotted at varying levels which signify different letters of the Arabic alphabet.
Marinella Senatore’s Bodies in Alliance, displayed at Manarat Al Saadiyat is a large-scale metal and LED-light installation whose text and iconography are inspired by elements from the artist’s cultural background, such as southern Italy’s traditional “luminarie”, which are elaborate light structures in the form of architectural elements created for outdoor public celebrations.
Shilpa Gupta’s video artwork StillTheyKnowNotWhatIDream will be on display at Al Ain’s Al Jahili Fort, and through her work, she strives to explore human perception and the transmission of information, visible and invisible, in everyday life.
Patterns of Absence (Bb36D10) – Desert Beacon is a brand-new work by Conrad Shawcross displayed at Al Ain Oasis, the piece has been born out of the artist’s optic series which explores the mathematics of interference and the human perception of light.
Farideh Lashai: Afloat Over Undulations
Abu Dhabi Art presents an exhibition showcasing the concluding artworks of the prominent Iranian artist, the late Farideh Lashai (1944-2014) via six video installations. Curated by Saam Samiee the works incorporate her artistic life: as an abstract painter, playful experimenter with new technologies and intellectual who excelled in bringing her aesthetic genius closer to her role as a writer, thinker, and translator.
For more information, visit abudhabiart.ae.
— Saira Malik
Images courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art