It’s an emotional exploration of the art world: which are the most frequently asked questions when it comes to art? Artists, curators, gallerists, museum directors, art collectors and more give thoughtful and deeply personal answers to our queries, while shedding light on the contemporary art scene – and offering a glimpse into its future.
Aaron Cezar: Often.
Adel Abidin: Some do.
Ashkan Baghestani: Unfortunately, it can happen.
Basel Dalloul: Of course. In a capitalistic market, the price is a function of supply and demand, if demand is high and supply is low, price naturally goes up, but if supply is high and demand is low, price tends to go down. If an artist is in high demand and producing prolifically then he should be able to maintain his price. I tend to like artists who produce enough to be well placed in collections at reasonable prices.
I know many artists who are overproduced and overexposed. This is never a good thing.
Deborah Najar: Absolutely. Having said that, I am equally saddened when an artist destroys works he deems unsatisfactory, as these are equally part of the process. They might not be exhibition worthy, but they exist for a reason.
Hormoz Hematian: Overproduction is impossible. Over-presentation is very possible.
Mahmoud Obaidi: Yes, and it can be one of the worst habits.
Michael Jeha: Commercially yes – oversupply can place constraints on the pricing point of an artist, although that’s not always the case, as shown by Picasso who produced over 13,500 paintings. In the end though, an artist should produce based on what he/she feels and should not be constrained to a pre-determined number.
Nadim Karam: Not sure how an artist can overproduce?
Ramin Salsali: Yes. Unfortunately some artists become a victim of their own and their galeries’ short-term interests.
Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil: Definitely not, the more an artist produces the deeper the understanding of processes and materials. Trial and error is an integral part of any artistic and creative exploratio
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Aaron Cezar is the founding director of Del¢na Foundation, where he both curates and develops its interrelated programme of residencies, exhibitions and public events. He has overseen the physical expansion of Del¢na Foundation into Londonís largest host of international residencies. He is also Advisor-at-Large at Art Jameel, one of Del¢na Foundation’s Strategic Partners. Independently and through Del¢na Foundation, Cezar sits on numerous boards, committees and advisory groups.
Adel Abidin was born in Baghdad in 1973. He moved to Helsinki, Finland, in 2001 and has lived there since. Abidin joined the Finnish Art Academy in 2003 to pursue a Master’s degree in art. During that time, he switched his practice from full-time painter to multimedia artist, and since 2004 he has pursued a career as a video and installation artist.
Abidin’s art uses various media, such as videos, video installations, multimedia sculptures, sound-based installations, photography and paintings, to explore contemporary issues. His main point of departure is always linked to the intention to explore the complex relationship between visual art and politics and identity. Using a sharp palette of irony and humour, he creates works that explore different social situations while dealing with elusive experiences and cultural alienation.
The artist uses his cross-cultural background, as an Iraqi artist living in Helsinki, to create a distinct visual language often laced with sarcasm and paradox, while maintaining an ultimately humanistic approach. This sarcasm used is nothing but a medium of provocation to serve the purpose of extending the mental borders of the artwork beyond the limits of the exhibition space. Abidin is particularly interested in creating opportunities to prolong the discussions beyond artwork by enabling the audience to convey mental elements from the work into their daily life. He always finds the words “politics” and “identity” to be more than a terminology or a path that we travel in, as they unfold to other concepts like discrimination and mass media manipulation.
Abidin has received e Finland Prize for Visual Arts in (2015) and Five Years Grant from e Art Council of Finland in (2013). He was also an Ars Fennica Prize nominee in 2011. Abidin has been invited as a visiting lecturer at various art schools, including the College of Liberal Arts, Oregon State University, Portland, Oregon (2010), the Art Academy of Helsinki, Kuva, (2015), LASALLE College of Arts, Singapore (2016) and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Santa Clarita, California (2016).
Additionally, Abidin has exhibited his work at various biennales including the Moscow Biennale (2017), the 5th Guangzhou Triennial (2015), the 56th Venice Biennale-Iran Pavilion (2015), the 56th International Art Exhibition-Venice Biennale (2015), the Biennale of Contemporary Art of Bosnia (2013), the 54th Venice Biennale-Iraq Pavilion (2011), the 10th Sharjah Biennial (2011), the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010), the 11th Cairo Biennale (2008), the 4th Gothenburg Biennale (2007), the 52nd Venice Biennale-Nordic Pavilion (2007), and the 5th Istanbul Biennale (2005).
Ashkan Baghestani, Sothebyís Head of Sale and Contemporary Arab and Iranian Art Specialist. Ashkan Baghestani joined Sotheby’s Middle East Department in 2012 focusing on the Contemporary Doha auctions and developing this increasingly important art platform, including the April 2013 Contemporary Art Doha sale which realised $15.2 million and established the highest price for an auction in the Middle East region, with records set for nine artists, including the record price for a living Arab artist, Chant Avedissian. His in-depth knowledge of the market for Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern and Iranian works, his fluency in Persian, French and English, and his contacts in the region have been invaluable in cultivating this important collecting field at Sotheby’s. He constantly travels across the Middle East region, participating in Sotheby’s numerous travelling exhibitions across the region such as Jeddah Art Week, Saudi Arabia and Dubai Art Week Travelling Exhibition, UAE.
Mr. Baghestani grew up in Geneva, Switzerland and has travelled extensively to study and work in Paris, New York and London. Before joining Sotheby’s in the summer of 2012, he studied Design and Management at Parson’s New School for Design, in the United States in 2009, earning a BBA Degree and followed later with a diploma in Middle Eastern Art from Sotheby’s Institute in 2011. He actively worked for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
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Basel Dalloul founded the Dalloul Art Foundation in 2017 to manage and promote his father’s (Dr. Ramzi Dalloul) vast collection of modern and contemporary Arab art. At over 4,000 pieces it is the largest collection of its kind in private hands. The collection includes but is not limited to paintings, photography, sculpture, video and mixed media art. Dalloul has had a passion for art since he was very young, inspired by his mother and father, both of whom are also passionate about art in all its forms.
Deborah Najar is the Co-Founder of the JPNF (Jean- Paul Najar Foundation), a museum for Contemporary Art located in Dubai. Among the ¢rst non-pro¢ts in the UAE, the JPNF came about as a partnership with Alserkal Avenue, from a desire to ožer a diverse artistic experience, with strong emphasis on patronage, artist-collector archives and western abstraction. Nearly three years later, the JPNF team have welcomed over 30,000 visitors, curated nine shows, published catalogues and hosted rich public programs for all audiences, o©en in partnership with local and international institutions.
From 2011-2015, Deborah was the Middle East Representative for Bonhams, structuring two auctions a year as well as managing a diverse client portfolio across departments and reporting directly into the Group CEO. From 2005 to 2011 she oversaw the development of De Beers Diamond Jewellers in the Middle East as founding director and was later promoted to GM. She sits on the board of the Gstaad New Year’s Music Festival, the Global Fine Arts Awards and heads up the Global Private Museum Network, which regroups the stakeholders of some of the world’s largest private museums. She arrived in Dubai in 2004, is a graduate of the London School of Economics and speaks four languages.
Hormoz Hematian founded Dastan’s Basement in 2012 to showcase emerging and experimental Iranian art then followed with Dastan+2, dedicated to established artists and Dastan:Outside, a program of curated pop-up exhibitions throughout town. Together, the three initiatives cover the full spectrum of Iranian contemporary and modern art practices. In addition to an extensive local program of shows, pop-ups and eclectic collaborations, the Dastan group of galleries can be regularly sighted at established international venues such as Frieze New York, Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Dubai and Contemporary Istanbul.
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Mahmoud Obaidi (b. 1966, Baghdad) is an Iraqi-Canadian artist whose work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. After leaving Iraq in 1991, he obtained his Master’s of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph in Canada, and completed diplomas in new media and film from Toronto and Los Angeles, respectively. His work has been exhibited extensively, including the British Museum, London-Qatar Museums, Doha; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Saatchi Gallery, London; the National Museum of Bahrain; the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; the National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Texas; the Musèe d’Art Contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec; the Nabu Museum, Lebanon and others. His work is part of the permanent collection of a number of significant museums, foundations and private collections.
Michael Jeha is the managing director and deputy chairman of Christie’s Middle East. In his role as managing director of Christie’s Middle East, Jeha is responsible for implementing and executing the firm’s strategic and commercial vision for the region. Christie’s was the first international auction house to open an office in Dubai in 2005 and began holding bi-annual sales the following year. Under his management, Dubai has become a regular and important selling centre on the international auction calendar with the two annual auctions of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art, achieving sales of over $250 million. Jeha joined Christie’s in January 1999, exactly 20 years ago. Originally Lebanese, Jeha was born in London and studied at the City University Business School.
Nadim Karam is an artist and architect working from Beirut-initially trained in architecture at the American University of Beirut then earned a doctorate in architecture from the University of Tokyo, Japan. He has recently finished building his own workshop, A.MUSE.UM in the Lebanese mountains, which will be also used as a platform for art, research and exhibitions. With Atelier Hapsitus, the pluri-disciplinary group he founded in 1996, he has realised temporary and permanent urban interventions in cities worldwide such as Prague, Beirut, Melbourne, Tokyo, London, Kuwait and Yerevan, using public art as an instrument for urban stimulation. Based on a crossfertilisation of disciplines and nationalities, the 20-year-old practice has a multidisciplinary composition, which feeds into the experimental nature of its work. He has held academic positions in Tokyo and Beirut, gives lectures internationally and has published several books.
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Ramin Salsali started his collection at the age of 21 and has been developing it ever since. Born in Tehran in 1964, he studied economics, strategic management and marketing with a focus on industry design in Germany and England. Parallel to his studies he founded a specialised consulting company for innovative and green technologies for application in the ¢eld of the petrochemical industries. Later, he entered into real estate development with particular focus on the preservation of historical buildings. For the last 12 years, his vision to share his passion for art with the public has been the moving force to establish a museum. In April 2011, Ramin Salsali decided to open his private museum in Dubai realising a long-term dream. Salsali Private Museum (SPM) opened its doors on the 11.11.2011. SPM is the ¢rst Private Museum for contemporary art in the region in which Salsali’s collection of over 800 pieces of painting, photography, video art, sculpture and installation is showcased. SPM also hosts the collections of guest collectors and travelling exhibitions from around the world. Salsali’s mission is to contribute to the development of art, culture and creative communities, support artists and promote the culture of collecting by encouraging individuals, families and corporations to collect art and share it with the public. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai has recognised and honoured Ramin Salsali as Patron of the Arts for the consecutive years, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 for his sustained support of the art community in Dubai.
Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath are founders of the multidisciplinary curatorial platform Art Reoriented in Munich and New York, chairmen of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation in Hamburg and a≤liate curators at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. Bardaouil and Fellrath have jointly curated numerous critically acclaimed exhibitions at renowned museums and institutions worldwide, and have held teaching positions at universities including the London School of Economics and New York University. They are award-winning authors with contributions to academic journals, books, newspapers and art magazines. They are currently preparing their international thematic exhibition Walking through Walls opening in September 2019 at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. For the upcoming 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia they are curators of the National Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates.
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Frequently Asked Questions in Art #48, page 93
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