Bahrain’s ArtBAB fair builds creative bridges across the world

Group photo with the artists.
Updated 28 October 2016
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Bahrain’s ArtBAB fair builds creative bridges across the world

Art Bahrain Across Borders (ArtBAB) will present art from across the world at its second international art fair to be held next March. At a breakfast meeting hosted by Kaneka Subberwal, co-founder of Art Bahrain, in the historic Arts Club in Mayfair, the plans were unveiled.
Subberwal, who began working in Bahrain in 2008 with her art consultancy firm, Art Select, is passionately committed to promoting contemporary artists from Bahrain and neighboring Arab states.
Speaking to Arab News she said: “Ever since arriving in Bahrain I have been fascinated by the country, its artists and their work. I now concentrate on the artists and their development with the aim of reaching a mass global platform. The fair last year under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, wife of His Majesty the King of Bahrain, was the first step and now we are looking forward to the second. The Bahraini leadership is invested in its people. They support everyone who is participating in building Bahrain.”
Tamkeen, Bahrain’s economic development agency, has appointed Art Select to organize and manage the fair to be held between March 22-26, 2017 at the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Center.
Amal Al-Kooheji, Tamkeen’s chief operating officer said: “We want to position Bahrain as a prime hub for art and education.
“Bahrain’s art sector is emerging into a viable industry with great potential to become an engine of economic growth. Until recently this sector did not receive the required attention and through initiatives such as ArtBAB we hope to steer it to new heights, inspiring entrepreneurship, art education and local skills development.”
ArtBAB will build on the momentum of last year’s international art exhibition as well as the success of the Bahraini Artists Across Borders initiative launched at the Victoria and Albert Museum and exhibited in Gallery 8 in May. Gallery director and curator, Janet Rady, a specialist in contemporary art from the Middle East and ArtBAB’s Head of Events and Educational Programming, said the 17 Bahraini artists who exhibited at the V&A launch showed the range and depth of talent in the country. She noted that one of the artists, Mayasa Al-Sowaidi, has been nominated for The Sovereign Middle East and North Africa Art Prize (MENA Prize).
David Hawkins, head of outreach and VIP relations for ArtBAB explained that the fair will include a BAAB Pavilion exclusive to 30 Bahraini artists to be selected by an international jury following submissions; a Gallery Arena to host up to 35 international and Bahraini galleries; an international Artists’ Pavilion to display the works of participating artists from around the world and an art book shop and merchandising and design section. A specially designed art and education program featuring key artists titled ‘[email protected]’ will also run parallel to the exhibition.
Subberwal was asked what criteria she used in judging the success and impact of an art fair. She replied: “I would consider the following: Did the fair connect with the people? That is an important measure for us of its success. Did artists from different communities and genres interact? Was there an interaction between the galleries and the collectors? Was there footfall — did the galleries get a return on their investment in participating in the fair? That is how I would measure success.”


Art Dubai, where anything goes, gets off to a colorful start

The fair’s 13th edition runs from March 20-23 and features 92 Contemporary and Modern galleries from 42 countries. (Arab News)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Art Dubai, where anything goes, gets off to a colorful start

DUBAI: Art Dubai, the largest art fair in the Middle East, got off to a colorful start on Wednesday and more than 92 galleries showcased their chosen artists in the city’s Madinat Jumeriah.

The fair’s 13th edition runs from March 20-23 and features 92 Contemporary and Modern galleries from 42 countries, as well as a bevy of galleries from the UAE.  There are also a number of events going on around the city, as part of Art Week, including Art Nights at the Dubai International Financial Center, which took place on Tuesday. 

You can read more about Art Nights, and see the wild and wonderful art on show, here

Highlights include new gallery section Bawwaba, showcasing art from the Global South; UAE NOW - the first section of its kind - spotlighting local independent artist-run platforms and subcultures, their place in the UAE’s evolving landscape and contribution to creating new ways of thinking, theory and artistic movements and the Contemporary section — two gallery halls presenting work from 59 galleries from 34 countries by some of the most notable contemporary artists working today. It will make you smile, smirk and everything  in-between.

Art Dubai 2019 welcomes more than 500 artists representing 80 nationalities across its four gallery sections: Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai Modern, Bawwaba and Residents.

We take a look at six of our favorite artists and pieces here.

The diversity on show is notable, with galleries from Latin America placed next to booths from Beirut, Saudi Arabia and London.

Pablo del Val, Artistic Director of Art Dubai, said: “Art Dubai continues to develop original content to redefine what an art fair can be and contribute to the UAE and wider region’s cultural landscape. We represent an art world that is truly global and inclusive, rooted in artistic discovery and the promotion of new and alternative perspectives, community building, idea generation and cultural exchange. Geographies, galleries and artists, art typologies and thematics that are not often seen side-by-side, or even as part of the same conversation, will converge at the fair. We hope that new discoveries will be made and new synergies formed.”

It’s a melting pot of artistic expression and media, with sculptures, canvases and the odd video installation vying for space in the crowded halls.

There is a distinct focus on contemporary art, so if you’re into museum-worthy paintings, this may not be your cup of tea, but if you are willing to experiment, it’s the perfect spot to question the boundaries of art.

Battery-operated imaginary animals careened across the floor in one booth, while a fine spider’s web of black string formed an origami-like sculpture in another — anything goes at Art Dubai, as long as it’s not too risqué.

But, why tell you when we can show you? Scroll through the photo gallery to find out more about the art on show here.