Art Dubai is seen as one of the world’s truly global fairs, but it is also the strongest in the region for the platform it provides for an international audience. This is evident in the presence of galleries from India and Pakistan. Despite being part of a robust art scene at home, peppered with busy art fairs and year-round events, India and Pakistan still see Art Dubai as the international outpost for the talent they support.
This year, nearly 12 per cent (43) of the artists showing in the gallery halls of Art Dubai are Indian, while four per cent are from Pakistan. That is a strong showing from South Asia, with the added presence of the Sri Lankan, Colombo-based Saskia Fernando Gallery, which is making its debut at Art Dubai. And the quality of the art is strong.
Mumbai's Chemould Prescott Road, one of India’s oldest contemporary art galleries, has brought a strong delegation to the fair in previous years – notably Rashid Rana in 2014 and Shezad Dawood in 2012. Although it did not have a booth last year, this time it returns with a group representation that includes conceptual artist Dawood, who is based in London, and boasts Indian and Pakistani heritage.
Jhaveri Contemporary, also from Mumbai, is bringing Rana Begum, whose obsession with form and colour translate beautifully in her newest works. Then there is the husband-and-wife duo Iftikhar and Elizabeth Dadi, who are interested in different media and have collaborated for more than 20 years.
Experimenter from Kolkata, a gallery that takes great care in the presentation of its booths, is featuring the emerging artist collective CAMP, which has shown at various fairs all over the world.
Savouring South Asian creativity at Art Dubai is always a pleasure – the artists surprise you with their contemplative works, especially with their use of sculptures to play with light and form. The nationality of an artist has never mattered to me, but I cannot help but be drawn to the creations from this part of the world, renowned for its centuries-old artistic heritage.