Abu Dhabi Art has announced an exciting line-up for this year’s event, with more than 80 galleries from 28 countries representing 300 artists, through 900-plus artworks.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Rita Aoun, Executive Director of Culture at the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi, said the event, opening on November 16, has created a multidisciplinary platform, reflecting global discourse and experimental ideas.
The art fair, now in its 14th year, has significantly supported the development of Abu Dhabi's creative industries, Aoun said, offering visitors an opportunity to discover contemporary cultural practices, while supporting talent from across the region.
“It's also [been a] constant witness of significant development of the capital’s cultural scene. It continues to evolve with its own artistic and cultural identity, to reflect and showcase the cultural dynamics of Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, but also of the region," said Aoun.
"The reason is to continue to contribute to a strong creative economy. The UAE as a whole, as a nation, has been heavily invested in the cultural and creative sector, as the country's leadership has long recognised the importance of fostering a robust cultural economy.
"Today, more than ever, the Department of Culture and Tourism is working to cultivate a cultural ecosystem and embrace culture as a lived experience, advancing it as a public good, and protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions to achieve sustainable goals."
Abu Dhabi Art, she said, plays a crucial role in this. This year's fair will feature 33 new galleries joining from Colombia, France, Tunisia, Italy, Nigeria, South Korea, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, the UAE and beyond.
Highlights include Focus: New Tomorrows, a collection of galleries and artists curated by art historian and philosophy professor Rachida Triki spotlighting the artistic evolution of North Africa. Triki said: "Today, there is a dynamic art scene in Tunisia and North Africa, with the creation of new art centres and new galleries."
With this in mind, when curating New Tomorrows, Triki said she "insisted" on highlighting the emergence of new artistic practices across North Africa through different mediums. "My concern during this curatorial process was both to preserve the aesthetic dimension of the works, and to show in its diversity, the creative energy that animates the artists who are markers of the future in our region."
The fair has also appointed gallerist Jade Yesim Turanli and journalist Riccarda Mandrini as guest curators, bringing in galleries from Turkey and beyond. Turanli said it was an honour to be taking part alongside three female curators and a female director. "It's really empowering to see how female art people are present, and so many in Abu Dhabi — I have seen this over a decade now. And I'm really happy to be a part of it."
Meanwhile, author and cultural historian Omar Kholeif has curated My Life in the Metaverse, an expansive showcase exploring the history and aesthetics of digital culture. The multidisciplinary approach includes a variety of media, from sculpture and painting to video and NFTs by internationally renowned artists, including Sophia Al Maria, Cory Arcangel, Andy Warhol and more.
This year’s Beyond: Emerging Artists is showcasing the works of three emerging artists living in the UAE, including Sarah Al Mehairi, Majd Alloush and Mohammed Khalid — each bringing a unique perspective to an exploration of borders, home, man-made territories and geographical mapping.
Artist Commissions in Cultural Sites will have new works by Abdullah Al Saadi, Marinella Senatore, Shilpa Gupta and Conrad Shawcross displayed across historical sites in Al Ain, Al Hosn and Manarat Al Saadiyat. The site-specific works are placed in a way that aims to spark a dialogue with their surroundings, bridging the gap between the historic and contemporary.
Seven other established artists will also exhibit their work as part of the fair's In and Around programme, including Shaikha Al Mazrou, Ngozi-Omeje Ezema, Farah Al Qasimi, Slimen Elkamel, Farid Belkahia and the aforementioned Al Saadi, Senatore and Shawcross — joined by three art students who took part in The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award competition.
Works by the Iranian artist Farideh Lashai will also be exhibited as part of the Afloat Over Undulations showcase, featuring six video installations. Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi Art Pavilion will exhibit the winning student design for a pavilion created for Abu Dhabi Art, as will The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award.
Abu Dhabi Art will also feature a dynamic programme of art workshops, masterclasses, tours, talks and performances, as well as the art and tech display Are We Microcosm?. The event also includes CookBook Abu Dhabi, a culinary art experience featuring renowned chefs Kasper Kurdahl, Maksut Askar, Ivan Brehm and Sahar Parham Al Awadhi, working alongside artists Caique Tizzi, Greta Alfaro, Hicham Berrada and Emeka Ogboh.
Abu Dhabi Art will open to the public at Manarat Al Saadiyat at 5pm on November 16 and run until November 20. Entry to this year’s event is free of charge. Tickets can be booked upon pre-registration via tickets.abudhabiart.ae