Art Basel 2022: Arab artists and intriguing works worth knowing about

The art fair is taking place in Switzerland this week

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The world's biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened on Thursday and is pushing on this week, drawing art lovers and the commercial elite to the picturesque, river-cleaved Swiss town.

Scroll through the gallery above to see pictures of Art Basel 2022

But with a bear market on the horizon in the US, most portfolios are down by at least 20 per cent, and with inflation on the rise, it’s unclear how eager collectors will be.

Still, Art Basel, which runs until Sunday, is as much about the museum shows, the gallery presentations and the networking — and none of that is looking likely to change.

Here are a few gallery presentations worth knowing about.

Maha Malluh, Galerie Krinzinger at Art Basel Unlimited

Maha Mullah's monumental cassette-tape work Food for Thought “World Map” is on show at Galerie Krinziger in Basel. Photo: Galerie Krinzinger / Peter Hoiss

Vienna’s Galerie Krinzinger is showing one of Saudi artist Maha Malluh’s cassette compositions, comprised entirely of tapes that she buys and uses for retro mosaics.

In Food for Thought “World Map” she depicts the globe as blocky and almost pixilated, using the now-obsolete music format as a tool of visual art.

Basim Magdy and Ahmed Morsi, Gypsum at Art Basel Unlimited and Art Basel Feature

May 31, 2017 - Ahmed Morsi, Blue Man, 2015. Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation *** Local Caption ***  Ahmed Morsi, Blue Man, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 127 x 152 cm Courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation.jpeg

Cairo gallery Gypsum is showing the paintings of Ahmed Morsi in the Art Basel Feature section. The Egyptian artist began working in Alexandria in the 1940s and moved to New York in 1974. His carefully worked-through, sympathetic canvases are now being brought to wider attention, partly, no doubt, because of his well-received 2017 exhibition at the Sharjah Art Foundation.

In Art Basel Unlimited, Gypsum is showing the wry, thoughtful and questioning work of fellow Egyptian artist Basim Magdy, who scrutinises images of the past and present (and also imagines the future) to understand the assumptions behind them — and often to highlight their absurdities.

Louise Bourgeois, Hauser & Wirth at Art Basel

The artwork 'Spider' by French-American artist Louise Bourgeois is on display. EPA

Mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth has given over the main portion of its booth to a three-and-a-half metre steel spider.

A signature work by French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, it would be a prestigious addition to any collection — but unfortunately for any would-be buyers, this one sold prior to Art Basel opening, for a cool $40 million.

The rest of the booth shows other little-known names such as Philip Guston, Gerhard Richter and Isa Genzken.

Mounira Al Solh, Sfeir-Semler at Art Basel Unlimited

Lebanese artist Mounira Al Solh's installation Lackadaisical Sunset to Sunset is being exhibited. It's made up of an embroidered tent, enormous textured wall piece and sound component.

Al Solh’s tents are often used as vessels to contain stories and disquisitions from the point of view of historical and contemporary women. The works also relate to feminine forms of labour, stitched through with embroidery and floating in the air, as if on the precipice of being whisked away or sinking suddenly to the ground.

Ignasi Aballi, galeria elba benitez, Galerie Nordenhake at Art Basel Unlimited

Stretching out across the Unlimited section is Spanish artist Ignasi Aballi’s wall piece Horizontes, a play on the idea of horizontal and horizons.

The work collages different media images of the sea and the sky to create an image of a many horizons, seen at different moments by different vantage points.

Impossible to see at once, it beautifully performs the idea of plurality — an idea, and numerous sheets of paper, that can be yours for an asking price in the range of $100,000 to $200,000.

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Updated: June 20, 2022, 9:18 AM