Art Dubai, held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the leading global platform for art and artists from the Middle East and Global South, is back for its 16th Edition from 3rd to 5th March 2023 with special previews on 1st and 2nd March. Located in Madinat Jumeirah Dubai, this is the fair’s largest and most extensive edition to date and has furthered its commitment to cultivating a culture of discovery, offering exciting new global perspectives and broadening conversations about art beyond traditional western-led geographical scopes and narratives. 

Highlights of Art Dubai 2023 include: 

Galleries Program

A truly global fair, this year’s edition features over 130 galleries from 43 countries across four gallery sections: Contemporary, Modern, Bawwaba and Art Dubai Digital.  

Canvas Gallery (Karachi) is amongst the 76 galleries from 34 countries invited by Art Dubai Contemporary. Showcasing sculpture, tapestry and painted ceramics by Adeela Suleman, a veteran artist from Pakistan, the work revolves around the theme of violence in the region spanning different dynasties, from Qajar to the Mughal, and the fascination of and repulsion with the subject and the dichotomy of feeling towards it. 

Nepali artist, Youdhisthir Maharjan, is amongst the 11 artists featured in Bawwaba. This section explores how contemporary artists from the Global South bring forth concerns within their worlds. Maharjan finds books in thrift stores, then meticulously cuts out individual alphabets from them, weaves strips from their pages and assembles them into works of art. By his hand, a book with an original title finds new life as an artwork. Its words turn into a visual image and create a new interpretation. The works bear a resemblance to traditional Tibetan Thangka paintings used for inner reflection and meditation. 

Art In Space at Art Dubai Digital is the first in the world Multisensory immersive art gallery that stimulates and involves the 5 senses. The artist creates a work of art by combining video, audio, aromas, light, effects, fog, and temperature. Everything is automated by the centralized control system of the room or managed via Tablet. The space, if programmed, can be used for various multisensory artistic experiences. This technology bridges the gap between contemporary art and the digital world creating a unique art experience. Art in Space gives the audience an opportunity to develop the creative potential of digital and non-digital artists by adding multisensory to the artworks, bringing immersive digital art even closer to those who, due to lack of knowledge of technological tools, have never taken this step. 

At Art Dubai Modern, Ramallah-based Gallery One is presenting a solo exhibition by Samir Salameh (1934-2018), a Palestinian painter and a refugee in Syria at the time of the Nakba in 1948. Active in his hometown of Safad since the 1990s, Salameh pursued his art on the borderline between figuration and abstraction, open to a world of cultural diversity. Though he suffered great tragedies throughout his life, his work stands free of these events with no references made at all. The artwork on display dates back to his early career in the 60s when he was living in a refugee camp up to to the late 80s when he immigrated to France. 

Art Dubai Commissions 

Chaupal is a Journey through South Asia is a series of site-specific performances and activations by ten leading artists from South Asia that explore the power of food, ritual, and gathering. Inspired by the chaupal, a public space that encourages community building in rural areas, where people gather to discuss their problems, celebrate pleasures, and share their pains, it is the hub of community life in villages around South Asia. The program is a diverse lineup of daily live performances and food-based experiences by artists whose work explores themes of community, celebration, hope, and connection.

Conferences and Talks Program

With over 50 session across the 5 days, a must-attend is the Modern Talks by Mouna Mekouar and Lorenzo Giusti, curators of Art Dubai Modern. The program will imagine a series of stimulating talks, lectures and round table discussions to provide an overview of modern art in the territories of North Africa, Middle East and South Asia by considering the question of art training, production, and reception of works. Looking critically at the history and historiography of mid-20th-century abstraction, the conversations will rethink art-historical canons and expand the discourse around global modernisms. How can we write a narrative which focuses on the connections and interconnections between people and cities from Casablanca to Beirut, from Damascus to Lahore and New Delhi? 

Partner Program Highlights

A fair for all ages, immersive workshops for children by Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren, entitled The Flag Project will commence at Art Dubai before expanding to over 90 schools and 8,000 children over two months in what is the UAE’s largest cultural education program. Using everyday craft materials and scrap fabrics, participating children will be invited to think creatively about their environments, collaging together designs that will later be transformed into flags in an extension of the artist’s ongoing project Signs of Abstraction.

Art Dubai 2023 opens to the public 3rd to 5th March at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai

– Saira Malik

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