Maitha Abdalla_, Too Close to the Sun. Courtsey of Abu Dhabi Art

Abu Dhabi Art Fair has returned with a rich programme including art installations and exhibitions as well as artist commissions that take place in different locations. Here are some highlights of the programme.

Beyond: Emerging Artists

The curators of Beyond: Emerging Artists for this year are Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, co-founders of multidisciplinary curatorial platform Art Reoriented. This edition showcases new commissions by three very diverse artists each bringing a unique perspective to this year’s programme. Al Lamki is inspired by the evolution of the UAE’s cultural dynamic since the early 2000s, while performance artist Abdalla explores the real and the imagined using memory and folktales. Benton’s multimedia works span sculpture, photography and film.

Maitha Abdalla has created an installation that is immersive and comprises several sculptures and a film that is a documentation of the performance. Both the sculptures and the film are evoking memories from Maitha’s childhood to talk about histories related to her own story and also to the development of the culture in which she lives.

Maitha Abdalla, Too Close to the Sun. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Maitha Abdalla, Too Close to the Sun. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Maitha Abdalla, Too Close to the Sun. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Maitha Abdalla, Too Close to the Sun. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art

Christopher Benton has created a work that is centered around a palm tree as a metaphor for global trade, histories of slavery, issue of migration and global economy.

Christopher Joshua Benton, The World Was My Garden. Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Christopher Joshua Benton, The World Was My Garden. Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Christopher Joshua Benton, The World Was My Garden. Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Christopher Joshua Benton, The World Was My Garden. Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art

Hashel Al Lamki’s project for the programme, titled Dice, highlights the patterns of the world, showing that everything has a rise and fall, and is meant to repeatedly evoke a sense of tension and release. His work consists of two main elements, a sculpture and a film that looks at the fall and rise of the world through a sequence of images and sounds that he has compiled from different sources from the internet, personal footage and films that he has been working on.

Hashel Al Lamki, NEPTUNE. Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Hashel Al Lamki, NEPTUNE. Beyond: Emerging Artists 2021. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art

Beyond: Artist Commission

Each year, Abu Dhabi Art invites established and well-known artists to create site-specific works in historic sites in Al Ain and the wider Abu Dhabi emirate, to activate these sites and draw new audiences to them. The works created by the commissioned artists are revealed during Abu Dhabi Art and remain on show to the public for several months afterward.

Aya Haidar’s work is represented by ATHR

Dwelling On The Past is a large-scale artwork that serves to demystify the active and intrinsic role that Bedouin women had in the preservation and survival of their tribe, specifically through traditions of Sadu weaving.

Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain

Dwelling on the Past, Aya Haidar, Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art

Hazem Harb is represented by Tabari Artspace

Visual and esoteric retrieval of the artist individual memory as a ten-year-old Arab child who grew up on the idea of the great Arab world without borders, remembered in the memory of that child.

Jebel Hafit Desert Park, Al Ain

Between Earth and Heaven Borders are Only in our Minds II, Hazem Harb, Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Between Earth and Heaven Borders are Only in our Minds II, Hazem Harb, Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art

Dr. Najat Makki is represented by Hunar Gallery

Ya Marhaba Al Saa’ portrays seven women, representing the seven Emirates, focusing on traditional craftsmanship inspired by traditional embroidery and attire. The title of the work is an Emirati greeting that represents customs, values and traditions.

Al Ain Oasis, Al Ain

Ya Marhaba Al Saa’, Dr Najat Makki, Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
Ya Marhaba Al Saa’, Dr Najat Makki, Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art

Richard Atugonza is represented by Afriart Gallery

At Heart but Far is -nspired by the tragic story of two lovers: Layla and Majnun, who become a metaphor of what many are experiencing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It speaks about longing for reunions and keeping friends and family in our hearts, while being physically separated.

Jebel Hafit Desert Park, Al Ain

At Heart but Far, Richard Atugonza, Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art
At Heart but Far, Richard Atugonza, Courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art

Rasheed Araeen is represented by Grosvenor Gallery

The artistic aim of Shamiyaana Abu Dhabi is to bring people together under one roof to meet, eat together and engage in conversations.

Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi

Kind of Blue

This year, Simon Njami spotlights selected artists and galleries under a new curatorial framework, Kind of Blue. The title of the exhibition references an album by Miles Davis, with Njami positioning jazz music as a metaphor for the open-ended parameters of the exhibition. Kind of Blue likens galleries to orchestras, each presenting musicians who together create a collective project that is wider than their singular expression. The exhibition references the improvisation harnessed by the creation of jazz music as a means to create an exploratory space and dialogue for these artworks to be understood together.

Charlene Komuntale, Autumn dresses, 2021 . Digital painting archivally printed on Hahnemuhle photo rag paper, 70 x 60cm . Courtesy of Afriart Gallery
Charlene Komuntale, Autumn dresses, 2021 . Digital painting archivally printed on Hahnemuhle photo rag paper, 70 x 60cm . Courtesy of Afriart Gallery
Bili Bidjocka , Le joueur g+¬n+¬reux. Acrylic and pearls on canvas, 192 x 220 cm, 2013. Courtesy of Galerie MAM
Bili Bidjocka , Le joueur g+¬n+¬reux. Acrylic and pearls on canvas, 192 x 220 cm, 2013. Courtesy of Galerie MAM
Joël Andrianomearisoa, Labyrinth of Passions (JA320), 2013
Silk paper on canvas. 50 × 40 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani
Joël Andrianomearisoa, Labyrinth of Passions (JA320), 2013
Silk paper on canvas. 50 × 40 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani

The fair is open to the public at Manarat Al Saadiyat until Sunday 21 November 2021.

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