Art Dubai wraps up its eighth and most successful edition to date; Fair exceeded 25,000 visitors

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Art Dubai wraps up its eighth and most successful edition to date; Fair exceeded 25,000 visitors
Anup Mathew Thomas, Nurses. Photo: Courtesy Art Dubai 2014.

DUBAI.- Art Dubai today announced visitor numbers and news from its eighth edition, and further cemented its standing as the leading international contemporary art fair in the Middle East and South Asia.

Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who graced the fair with two separate visits, the fair preview was inaugurated by the Crown Prince of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. HE Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development opened the special preview of the new gallery hall, Art Dubai Modern.

Art Dubai’s largest and most global edition welcomed 85 participating galleries from 34 countries and featured the work of more than 500 artists. With a combined value in excess of US$45m, galleries reported healthy sales to local, regional and international collectors and institutions from the moment the buzzing collectors’ preview opened on March 18, and throughout the week.

Over the course of four days (March 19-22, 2014), attendance at the fair exceeded 25,000 visitors. The opening on March 19 attracted capacity crowds, while the Global Art Forum, titled ‘Meanwhile…History’, witnessed packed houses for both its Doha and Dubai programmes. The talks and sessions were live-streamed in Arabic and English via the Internet to audiences around the world.

Art Dubai 2014 included the launch of a third gallery hall (Art Dubai Modern), to complement the Contemporary and Marker gallery programmes and provided a unique, curated, and enthusiastically-received outing for masters from the Middle East and South Asia. 70 museum groups and more than 400 curators and museum representatives attended the fair, confirming Art Dubai’s role as the meeting point in the Middle East and South Asia, and the global fair of choice for the art world.

The fair also saw its highest-ever levels of attendance from universities and colleges, welcoming more than 500 UAE and GCC-based students on specially organised tours. The Campus Art Dubai core class of 2013-14 held its graduation at the fair, with two members (Raja’a Khalid and Suheyla Takesh) also awarded fellowships from the New York University Abu Dhabi’s FinD programme. A ‘Saturday art school’ for UAE-based artists, writers and curators, Campus Art Dubai is a partnership with the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and is supported by d3 Dubai Design District.

For the youngest creatives, The Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program, which featured workshops and Discovery Tours of the fair, attracted over 1000 children plus their parents. Art Dubai and The Cultural Office have today signed an agreement to work together through 2015 and beyond, building on the success of the children’s programme at the fair.

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director General, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, said: “The success of the eighth edition of Art Dubai is a testament to Dubai’s position as a global cultural and artistic hub, bringing together the world’s creative artists to one platform. As one of the pillar events of ‘Dubai Art Season,’ Art Dubai has demonstrated the city’s creative capabilities, while highlighting its commitment to nurture and foster a genuine appreciation for these industries through a sterling repertoire of events.”

“We’re thrilled with the outcome and the response to our eighth edition,” said Antonia Carver, Fair Director, Art Dubai. “The great attendance of more than 25,000 art professionals and enthusiasts shows that Art Dubai is not only responding to an appetite for art in the region, but also driving it. The growth of the fair echoes the development of the arts scene in the UAE and indeed, the region as a whole.”

“This year’s fair featured a number of firsts, including the addition of the Modern section, and saw significant growth in the geographic reach of exhibiting galleries. Our roots are here in the UAE but there is no question that Art Dubai is now a global fair with a global footprint and global relevance, and that we are at the heart of a region that not only acts as a hub, but also creates and generates great work and ideas. We are immensely thankful to all those who have participated in and collaborated with the fair, and who continue to support us, year-round.”

Ahmad Al Matrooshi, Managing Director, Emaar Properties PJSC, said: “Emaar has played an integral part in promoting the city’s journey to creative excellence. Whether it is highlighting Dubai’s design competencies through Burj Khalifa, or showcasing sculptures in Downtown Dubai, we are committed to lending momentum to the arts and creative scene of Dubai. We were delighted to extend our support to Art Dubai, which energises Dubai’s creative sector.”

As well as the organisers, galleries and exhibiting artists, also celebrating the outcome of the fair was artist Younes Rahmoun, the winner of the John Jones Art on Paper Award, whose work was exhibited by Galerie Imane Farès, Paris, in Art Dubai Contemporary; Rasheed Araeen, awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Artnow magazine, and also exhibiting with Grosvenor Gallery, London, in Art Dubai Modern; and The Abraaj Group Art Prize winners, who exhibited their works in a dedicated exhibition, ‘Garden and Spring’, to critical acclaim.

Audiences–from the world’s leading curators to UAE-based families–interacted with twelve new commissioned site-specific works and performances, which formed part of the dynamic Art Dubai Projects, while Falgoosh Radio, led by UK-based artists Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver, played out live from Art Dubai to audiences across the world, throughout the fair week. Art Dubai Cinema featured films by John Akomfrah, Shezad Dawood and Taus Makhacheva, plus talks with the artists throughout the week.

Art Dubai 2014 also hosted a range of collateral events, adding to an extraordinarily rich programme. These included the British Council and British Embassy’s reception to highlight cultural ties between the UK and the UAE, which featured a keynote by British Museum curator Venetia Porter. Among many events celebrating art publishing, ‘calligraffiti’ artist eL Seed discussed his book Lost Walls with a capacity audience, while the late Egyptian artist Hamed Abdalla was celebrated with the launch of a monograph about his work. The UAE National Pavilion, with the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, held an event to mark the appointment of Sheikha Hoor Al- Qasimi as curator of the UAE Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennial, while the Saudi Art Council also held a briefing at Art Dubai to discuss its activities. King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, hosted a lunch to announce plans for this major new institution.

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