Abu Dhabi Art: 10 Things Not to Miss

The Ring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1981 (Courtesy: Gallery Enrico Navarra)
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The curtain will raise on the sixth edition of Abu Dhabi Art tonight with a grand VIP opening and tomorrow from 3pm the doors will open to the public.

For The Art Blog, myself and Danna Lorch (of www.dannawrites.com) will be bringing you extended coverage for the next few days.

To kick things off Danna has written a guide to the 10 things not to miss at Abu Dhabi Art.

1. Edgar Degas.

Encounter original oils on canvas by the French master of Impressionism, head to Acquavelle Galleries (booth A2)

2. Seeing Through Light: Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection

18 of the first pieces from the permanent collection of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi are on display. Lose yourself in an alternative universe as you enter Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Room and wander through the painstakingly curated exhibition, which explores our scientific and spiritual relationship with time and light. A sure sign of strong things to come when the Frank Gehry-designed stunner of a museum opens its doors on Saadiyat Island in 2017.

3. Galleries from all over the world.

It’s possible to transcend borders and visit Seoul’s Park Ryu Sook Gallery for Choi Jeong Hwa’s chrome sculptures, New York’s Paul Kasmin gallery to take in Ivan Navarro’s light installation, and then to Paris, where kamel mennour presents imposing animal sculptures by Huang Yong Ping and Lee Ufan, standing guard outside a makeshift garden of rocks. No plane ticket necessary for this trip!

4. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1981 painting The Ring

In Gallery Enrico Navarra’s booth, view an original canvas by the young American artist who revolutionised New York’s street scene before an untimely early death at the age of 27.

5. Ai Wei Wei’s sculpture

Forever, an installation of stainless steel bicycles by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei, adds real texture to the fair's main atrium. The installation is a preview of the Beyond section, which will expand after the fair to display public artworks in the city of Abu Dhabi for the coming few months.

6. Hassan Hajjaj’s Artist Talk

Perhaps you know Hassan Hajjaj for his series Kesh Angels, a pop ode to the female biker culture on Marrakesh's streets? The legendary portrait photographer will deliver an Abu Dhabi Art Artist Talk titled Consuming Cultures, which promises to probe the relationship between tradition and consumerism. It will take place on Thursday between 15.00-15.45 in the auditorium. Email manaratalsaadiyat@tcaabudhabi.ae to register.

7. UAE artist Najat Makki’s figurative paintings at Hunar Art.

Allow the signature dot patterns (inspired by the traditional women’s dress known as ‘abu dagga’) to transport you to another time and place. Makki was the first woman in the country to earn a scholarship to study art abroad and that longstanding passion for the canvas is evident.

8. Artists’ Waves

Take a break from the fair’s full-on buzz and step into a softly lit salon featuring a wall packed with works by artists who were hand-picked by curator Fabrice Bousteau. Have the chance to interact with emerging galleries including Dubai’s Gallery Ward, which focuses on contemporary Egyptian art.

9. A presentation on counterfeiting in art

Fakes and Looted Art in the Middle Eastern Market is another Abu Dhabi Art talk about the challenges of authenticating works of art from the region and how to avoid common traps. Speakers include Venetia Porter, Michael Jeha, Charles Pocock and Saleh Barakat. Moderated by Georgina Adam. It happens on Saturday between 14.30-15.30 in the auditorium. Email manaratalsaadiyat@tcaabudhabi.ae to register.

10. Performance Art.

This interactive medium is still relatively new to the region and for the second year running Abu Dhabi Art demonstrates a commitment to live performance pieces that are organically part of the fair. Look out for Moussa Sarr's Rising Carpet, a woven carpet flown by drones throughout the fair's public spaces and halls.

* This blog is co-posted on www.dannawrites.com