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: It’s part of making work itself.
Ashkan Baghestani: Very, I’d say it’s essential!
Basel Dalloul: It is of paramount importance, second only to that artist maintaining their craft.
Deborah Najar: We see in every show we put on, how much our visitors love to see the archival materials. They tell the story of thought processes, discussions, relationships and exchanges, states of mind and artistic pursuits. I would highly encourage all artists and collectors to archive all their materials: postcards, exhibition invitations, notebooks, photographs. What may seem trivial today could, in 30 years, be essential to art history.
Hormoz Hematian: Most important.
Manuel Rabaté: Very! You need to document the process of creation. That is why the work done by initiatives and institutions like Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah Art Foundation, Jameel Arts Centre just to name a few, is so important. All of our colleagues are keeping part of these memories and giving it meaning and relevance.
Omar Kholeif: It is ESSENTIAL! Without archives and collections, artists and the context around which her or his work is made will be lost forever.
Ramin Salsali: It is an essential and necessary task in the carrier of an artist to keep the record of his artistic evolvement and progress.
Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil: This is a question that should be asked of each artist individually.
Venetia Porter: It is very important that artists keep archives relating to their work for the future. A brilliant example is the Lebanese artist Paul Guiragossian, who kept every press cutting and every letter, which have been lovingly looked after by Manuella and used to thoroughly document his work. Museums need to be looking after such fragile material.
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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.
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.
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.
(from left to right)
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.
Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi. Rabaté is a graduate of the Institut d’études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po, 1998), and of HEC Business School (2001). He began his career as a deputy director at the auditorium of the Musée du Louvre from 2002 to 2005. He participated in the creation of new programmes on Islamic Arts in the context of the first performance contract between the French government and the museum for its modernisation. He joined the Musée du Quai Branly as deputy director of cultural development a year before its opening in 2006, then led the launching of the first exhibitions abroad. Rabaté joined Agence France-Museums in 2008, a year after the signing of the intergovernmental agreement between France and Abu Dhabi. He has followed the Louvre Abu Dhabi project from its conceptual phase until its operational implementation as secretary general and acting CEO since 2010. He was appointed CEO of Agence France-Museums in 2013 to set up in Abu Dhabi a multidisciplinary team of museum professionals and follow through the phases of the project realization in collaboration with the major French museums and their UAE partners. In September 2016, Rabaté was appointed director of Louvre Abu Dhabi by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi. Aside from his duties in the service of museums, Rabaté has also chaired the reflection group Culture & Management, in which he had created the museum department. He has also taught arts and cultural management at various universities in France and Abu Dhabi.
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Omar Kholeif is an Egyptian-born, British writer and curator. He is co-curator of Leaving the Echo Chamber, the 14th Sharjah Biennial and Time, Forward! e V-A-C Foundation Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. He is also a guest curator for Abu Dhabi Art and the Manchester International Festival, as well as a visiting tutor at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. Kholeif has held curatorial positions, including Manilow senior curator and director of global initiatives at MCA Chicago; curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London; senior curator at Cornerhouse and HOME, Manchester; curator at
FACT, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool; founding artistic director of the UKís Arab Film Festival and senior editor at Ibraaz Publishing. He has curated or co-curated major international projects including the Cyprus Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale; FOCUS: Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean at the Armory Show, New York; and the 2012 Liverpool Biennial. e author and or editor of over 20 books and catalogues on art, Kholeifís recent books include Goodbye, World! Looking at Art in the Digital Age (Sternberg Press) and The Artists Who Will Change the World (ames and Hudson, both 2018).
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.
Venetia Porter is a curator responsible for the collection of Islamic art, in particular of the Arab World and Turkey, as well as developing the collection of the modern and contemporary art of the Middle East. She was previously curator of Islamic coins in the Department of Coins and Medals. She gained a degree in Arabic and Persian at the University of Oxford, followed by a M.Phil in Islamic Art, obtaining her PhD on ìe history and monuments of the Tahirid dynasty of the Yemen 858-923/1454-1517î from the University of Durham. She recently curated the exhibition Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam (2012).
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Frequently Asked Questions in Art #48, page 88
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