Art Dubai 2022 navigates seven continents, hosts 120 presentations by 104 galleries

The 15th edition of the art fair - a leading platform for artists from the Middle East and Global South - showcased modern, contemporary and digital art at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

by Rahul KumarPublished on : Apr 19, 2022

Art Dubai closed its 15th edition that included four sections of the fair: Modern, Contemporary, Bawwaba and Digital. Marking a return to full scale at Madinat Jumeirah, Art Dubai's 2022 edition was the fair’s largest to date. The fair reinforces the growing importance of Dubai as an international hub for art and culture and for innovation and technology, and Art Dubai as the marketplace for art and artists from the Global South. Strategically located, the city poses as the cross-point between the West and East, merging the contemporary cultures with the deep-rooted ethos.

Art Dubai 2022 featured more than 120 presentations by 104 galleries and platforms from 44 countries. The gallery programme was complemented by newly commissioned works from leading international artists and a talks programme, bringing together some of the world’s brightest minds through the 15th edition of Global Art Forum and new Bybit Talks Series.

Art Dubai 2022 also featured the debut edition of Art Dubai Digital, a new physical gallery section presenting a curated selection of 17 of the most cutting-edge digital platforms internationally. Art Dubai’s Art Director, Pablo del Val commented, "This was without doubt one of the most successful editions of Art Dubai, in terms of both visitors and sales reported, fully reflecting Dubai’s position as an engine of global growth and a city no longer of the future, but of the here and now. The response from audiences and collectors to the debut edition of Art Dubai Digital has been truly incredible. Art Dubai prides itself on being a fair of innovation and forward-thinking, and there was a real freshness and energy to the 2022 edition across the whole programme.”

Art Dubai is held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Art Dubai is held in partnership with A.R.M. Holding. The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) is the fair’s strategic partner. Bybit was the lead partner of Art Dubai Digital 2022.

During my visit, I also had the opportunity to experience the broader initiatives under Dubai Culture, including the Museum of the Future, Etihad Museum, and the art district at Alserkal Avenue.

1. Nancy Adajania curates the 'Bawwaba' section at Art Dubai 2022

Bawabba hall at Art Dubai 2022
Bawabba hall at Art Dubai 2022 Image: Nancy Adajania; Courtesy of Art Dubai

Founded in 2007, Art Dubai is the platform to see and buy modern and contemporary art from the Middle East and surrounding region (MENASA – Middle East, North Africa & South Asia). The specially curated Bawwaba section included 10 solo artist positions from the Global South. Curated by the cultural theorist Nancy Adajania, the focus was on techne and facture. Talking about the curation Adajania says, "Bawwaba, which means ‘gateway’, has an invitational energy. An affirmative term, it signals acts of traversal and mobility, gestures towards the long histories of hospitality, trade and translation that have nourished the Arab lands. The term Bawwaba helps us to get away from the centre-periphery model of cultural diffusion and, instead, privileges the ‘off-sites’ or ‘off-centres’ of contemporary art.

2. Italian artist Loris Cecchini's art is extrapolated from natural phenomenon

Aeolian Landforms and Other Particles, exhibition views at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai, 2022
Aeolian Landforms and Other Particles, exhibition views at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai, 2022 Image: Alex Paray, Courtesy of Loris Cecchini and GALLERIA CONTINUA

Art fairs continue to be a place to encounter the works of artists. Sometimes it is simply about encountering a single artwork to then gain an interest in their entire oeuvre. At Art Dubai, such was Milan-based Italian artist Loris Cecchini’s Aeolian Landforms at the Galleria Continua presentation. Cecchini is deriving inspiration from what could be considered a natural sculpting process. Cecchini elaborated on his interest in this particular phenomenon saying, “In nature, aeolian landforms are created when sediment particles are lifted by upwards forces, causing them to roll across the surface until they land, hop from point to point or remain suspended in the air. Once this movement is provoked, it continues via the forces of gravity and momentum, the excess particles that fall out of the chain of movement then go on to dislodge further particles, creating a continuous dynamic phenomenon that feeds itself.”

3. Art Dubai Digital proves to be a star attraction at the 15th edition of the fair

Rhythm#228, 2020, Digital | Stirworld
Rhythm#228, 2020, Digital Image: Jeff Davis; Courtesy of Bright Moments gallery

The undisputed highlight at this year's Art Dubai was the digital section. Situated within the Madinat Jumeirah complex, the digital pavilion was separated from the traditional booths that showcased paintings and sculptures. One of the participants, Bright Moments gallery - based out of Los Angeles and New York in USA and Berlin in Germany - is uniquely structured. “It is an on-chain Decentralized Autonomous Organisation (DAO) that specialises in live NFT minting experiences. Ownership of a CryptoCitizen NFT grants membership in the DAO, and every member has equal rights, equal say and equal footing,” states the introductory text on its website.

4. Dubai Collection debuts with its first exhibit at the Etihad Museum, Dubai

Installation views, When Images Speak: Highlights from the Dubai Collection, Etihad Museum | Dubai Collection | STIRworld
Installation views, When Images Speak: Highlights from the Dubai Collection, Etihad Museum Image: Courtesy of Dubai Collection

Dubai Collection recently launched an art exhibition titled When Images Speak, showcased at the Etihad Museum. With works chosen from some of the most influential artists from the UAE, the exhibit aims to introduce many of the dominant beliefs, critical inquiries, and social dynamics of their times. Curated by Dr. Nada Shabout, the show features a selection of nearly 70 modern and contemporary artworks from the region, including museum-quality pieces by Baya Mahieddine, Naziha Selim, Fateh Moudarres, Dia al-Azzawi, and Abdul Qader Al Rais. Launched alongside the exhibition and live since November last year, the Digital Museum of the Dubai Collection constitutes a unique educational resource for the general public and will feature the artworks and artists represented in Dubai Collection, alongside engaging editorial content.

5. Ramazan Can showcases works that respond to identity at Art Dubai

Feel at Home, 2020, Neon, Carpet, Wood, Plexiglass | Art Dubai | Ramazan Can | STIRworld
Feel at Home, 2020, neon, carpet, wood, plexiglass Image: Courtesy of Anna Laudel gallery

STIR speaks with Ramazan Can at the gallery Anna Laudel's presentation at Art Dubai 2022. A tapestry, an original, used piece that belonged to the family of Can, was juxtaposed with neon lights, outlining some of the patterns of the carpet itself. The work was dichotomous – old and new, quiet and bold, handmade and industrial – all at once. Through his art, Can responds to the ideas of identity. He investigates the healing traditions of his ancestors and has researched on the nomadic life of his forefathers.

STIR was a media partner of Art Dubai 2022 that took place at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai from March 11-13.

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