World Art Dubai: affordable and accessible

The fair will have free admission and an open-door policy, plus plenty of art for under Dh10,000. Now is a good time, then, to start collecting.

With almost half of the 97 exhibitors at World Art Dubai hailing from the UAE, and almost all of the visitors expected to be based in the region, the city’s first affordable art fair is set to be a truly local affair.

“We want to target the local UAE population,” says Arjun Verma, the fair executive. “We will have free admission and an open-door policy to remove the intimidation factor that can exist at other art fairs, and also to show people an affordable range of art so they can increase their collection or even buy their first piece.”

The key words Verma repeats throughout our conversation are accessible and affordable, with the majority of artworks on show ranging in price from as little as a few hundred dirhams up to Dh50,000.

“There will be a few pieces even higher than that but we have tried to encourage galleries to keep the range much lower – to below Dh10,000 – as that is what we feel will suit everyone’s wallets.”

The booths are divided up into 60 per cent for galleries and 40 per cent for individual artists. This is a sharp distinction from most other art fairs, which ­usually insist on only exhibiting galleries that have been ­established for more than three years.

The idea is to allow emerging artists a platform to show and sell their work, as well as encourage new collectors.

The concept has been well ­received by local galleries, which have welcomed the chance to widen their sphere of regular clients.

Sharon Harvey, the director and founder of Showcase Gallery, says she decided to take part to promote Alserkal Avenue, Dubai’s art district, and expose her artists to a wider audience of art lovers and young collectors who may not yet be able to afford the art featured at Art Dubai.

“Some young collectors are daunted by walking into a gallery, whereas a fair, it is a more informal, relaxed environment,” she says.

Although the comparisons are natural, Verma insists that the new fair is not a competitor to the established Art Dubai.

“My background is in art fairs and when World Trade Centre took me on for this fair, I was ­excited but also nervous given the prestigious position of the other art fairs in Dubai.

“However, Art Dubai is not a competitor – we are not at that level at all. We are just a young art fair and we want to complement the entire industry.

“This fair will be a litmus paper for everyone here, testing the market to see what people want. As we grow, we will expand and assess the needs of the ­consumer.”

Published: March 30, 2015 04:00 AM


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