Art Dubai’s tenth edition closed last night with participating galleries and artists reporting one of the most successful years of the fair to date. Welcoming international and regional artists, collectors, private museums, institutions, and curators from over 90 countries worldwide, Art Dubai reaffirmed its position as the world’s most global fair.
The fair celebrated the highest numbers to date of galleries participating from India, Africa, Russia and Central Asia as well as galleries from Georgia, Ghana, Lithuania, Sri Lanka, Oman, Palestine and the Philippines participating for the first time. The fair continues to offer unparalleled insight into the dynamic art scenes burgeoning outside Europe and America. Major galleries with an international outlook and roster continue to do exceptionally well at Art Dubai, tapping into a market that remains underrepresented at artworld events in the West. 27,516 visitors throughout the week, including capacity crowds of 5,142 during the Collectors’ Preview – an increase on last year – and a further increase to 7,211 during Wednesday’s VIP Preview
The fair’s Director, Antonia Carver said; “With our tenth edition, we’re looking forwards not back. The exceptional comments received from collectors, galleries, artists, museums and curators and the ever-increasing attendance figures from both local and international audiences – from ever more diverse locations – illustrate the maturity of the fair and the crucial role it plays in both the wider region and the artworld calendar.”
Art Dubai saw solid sales from the VIP preview through to the last day, with around a quarter of galleries selling out, and the vast majority reporting healthy interest and acquisitions from a diverse collector base. Sales ranged from emerging artists under $10,000 through to works well beyond the $300,000 mark by artists such as Ai Wei Wei, Faiq Hassan, Yayoi Kusama, Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Marwan, Nasreen Mohammedi, Jaume Plensa among others.
Art Dubai Contemporary’s two halls were dominated by large-scale installations and stand-out works by internationally acclaimed artists, presented alongside works by the most exciting emerging artists from the region. Indian contemporary art was well represented, with eight of the leading galleries from Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata; with Dubai’s role as an international hub for collectors, artists and galleries from South Asia growing fast.
Across its wider programming, Art Dubai presented an extremely strong representation of female artists, particularly from the Middle East and South Asia region, with over 45% of the artists participating in the fair being women.
Art Dubai Modern – the only exhibition of its kind worldwide, focusing on the masters of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia – attracted particularly significant interest from international museum representatives. Comprised of solo and two-person exhibitions of museum-quality works from 1903 to the 1980s, the sector illustrated the development and artistic history of the region and the fast- growing market demand for these historical works.
Throughout the week, galleries reported interest from major collectors and institutions, representing the role Art Dubai plays as a site for curatorial research, cultural exchange and in establishing a greater understanding of the evolution of the art scene within the region.
95 museums and institutions visited the fair, with museum directors and curators from, among others, Centre Pompidou (Catherine David and Christine Macel), Museum of Modern Art, New York (Glenn D. Lowry), the Solomon R. Guggenheim (Richard Armstrong), Serpentine Galleries (Hans Ulrich Obrist), LACMA, British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, Museu Serralves, V&A, Tate, Qatar Museums Authority, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Kunsthalle Zurich and representatives from numerous private museums including the Elgiz Museum and Yinchuan MOCA. Many museums brought groups of curators and patrons to the fair, taking advantage of Art Dubai’s extensive, Gulf-wide VIP programmes.
A group of UK institutions visited the fair for the first time as a result of Art Dubai’s ongoing partnership with the British Council, including the Whitworth, Ikon Gallery, Ashmolean Museum, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, National Galleries of Scotland and Iniva, among others.
Many international biennial directors including Venice, Kochi, Sharjah, Liverpool, Berlin were also present.
Marker, Art Dubai’s thematic gallery programme, was curated this year by artist and writer Ringo Bunoan and featured works by emerging artists from artist-run spaces in Manila, the Philippines. Throughout the week, in this highly popular and dynamic section of the fair, artists established new connections and interest in their work, with sales of pieces by emerging and established artists from the Philippines– reasserting the fair as a site of discovery.
The Abraaj Group Art Prize exhibition, curated by Nav Haq, was particularly well-received; it included a major new film commission awarded to Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, plus works by shortlisted artists Dina Danish, Mahmoud Khaled and Basir Mahmoud.
The Global Art Forum, now the largest annual arts conference in Asia, attracted capacity audiences throughout its three-day run and achieved record attendance to date. The Forum, titled ‘The Future Was’, continues to consolidate its reputation as one of the most innovative and eclectic talks programmes, globally.
Art Dubai’s not-for-profit programme, the largest programme of its kind in the world, included residencies, commissions, radio and film programmes, plus new site-specific commissions by eight rising artists from the region. Yasmina Reggad, Curator of Art Dubai Projects 2016, presented ambitious interventions throughout the fair, transforming the lower ground floor of Madinat Jumeirah into a Sleep Therapy Clinic by Jumairy, which visitors could check into throughout the opening hours of the fair. Fulfilling its aim to embrace the eclectic fabric and economy of an art fair, the Projects programme this year enabled visitors to become unknowing participants in the performance of Lydia Ourahmane, which used the hotel’s Wi-Fi network as a platform for a new video commission, realised on visitors’ own mobile phones. Additional highlights included performances by Doa Aly and Areej Kaoud that took place throughout the grounds of the fair, plus major new installations by Shreshta Rit Premnath and Massinissa Selmani.
The educational role the fair plays in the region also continues to grow: a revamped volunteers programme saw 123 young UAE-based enthusiasts involved in all aspects of the fair, while an expanded student programme welcomed over 1000 young people to the fair.
Participating galleries offered to comment on their experience of Art Dubai 2016:
Grosvenor Gallery | London Conor Macklin, Director “The fair and Art Dubai Modern has been a great success. We made sales to local and European collectors. We have two potential museum shows that have come out of this fair, and an institutional acquisition as well.”
Marianne Boesky | New York Serra Pradhan and Adrian Turner, Directors “We’ve met some great new people from across the region; lots of new collectors – a lot of serious
collectors – and it extends even to the last day.”
Carlier Gerbauer | Berlin Marie-Blanche Carlier, Director “This was our first year. We had everything to gain. I met new artists, new collectors – overall our experience has been very, very positive. Art Dubai is an exciting platform for all these different countries to meet and interact, like India and the Arab world. It’s an interesting, communicative platform for us. We sold and had really extraordinary interest in our artists from Brazil, Sweden and Spain. These collectors were from Dubai – people from here – and they were interested in our European and South American artists.”
The Third Line | Dubai Thibault Geffrin, Associate Director “A lot of curators came. We had good sales at the booth and at the gallery. All the collectors from the region are here. For us, it’s an event we can’t miss. This is the week in the art schedule when everyone is in Dubai.”
Jeanne Bucher Jaeger | Paris Véronique Jaeger, General Director “This year has been a great success for us, as our 4th year participating here. Every year we consolidate our relationships with clients who we see each year, and we always meet new collectors as well. This week we have sold work by all of the artists that we brought. We have met new collectors from countries including Lebanon, India, Switzerland, and Pakistan. We have also had proposals for our artists from museums and institutions, all through being here at Art Dubai. We have really enjoyed the week, and really feel the people have a genuine interest in the art. We cross the world each year to find a place with real activity and each year we build on the last.”
Experimenter | Kolkata Prateek Raja, Founder “Usually we see a rush on the first day but this year we have had stable visits throughout the week – including an important work closed on the last day. I think the fair has seen a lot of new faces, also general buzz or feel is good. Lots of detailed thought has gone into how to make the fair more navigable for collectors, galleries and visitors. We feel comfortable at Art Dubai, it’s like a home fair for us. The other collateral events like The Wedding Project and RCA Secret have brought a lot of attention. The Global Art Forum plays its role and brings the intellect to the fair. Everyone looks forward to it.”
Galerie Lelong | New York Myriam Attali, Deputy Director “It was really a good fair. We saw collectors from all over the world. This year was much better than before – much more interesting for us. We met good and new contacts. We sold some important works like our Jaume Plensa sculpture and works by Etel Adnan who has huge success in this region. We had a lot of very serious interest in Barthelemy Toguo’s painting.”
Galerie Daniel Templon | Paris, Brussels Tessa de Caters, Director “It was a wonderful fair for us. Every day was a good day, active and busy – we even made a sale on the last day. There was no ‘dead’ day.”