French art dealer and gallerist Stéphane Custot establishes a permanent presence in Alserkal Avenue


This March, Custot Gallery will open its doors in Dubai as part of Alserkal Avenue’s ambitious expansion. The space debuts with The World Meets Here, a group exhibition including a 1966 pinstripe maze by Frank Stella, a Robert Indiana sculpture and Fabienne Verdier’s cerulean symphony — a 2015 acrylic and mixed media work fittingly titled Notations en bleu, among other sculptures and contemporary works by a number of noteworthy international artists.

Over the past 25 years, founder Stéphane Custot has built real expertise in Europe through various ventures, including Pavillon des Antiquaires and the Pavillon des Beaux-Arts (since renamed Pavilion of Art & Design) in Paris and London, and Waddington Custot Galleries in London. The art dealer and gallerist says he chose the UAE because it is quickly becoming known as a major global cultural crossroads.

Portrait Stéphane Custot

Portrait Stéphane Custot

“At the moment, Dubai as a whole is undergoing tremendous change, not only within the art world but also within the tourist industry and the job market,” he explains. “The UAE has a different feel to Europe and North America, and situated halfway between the two. It represents a perfect market opening for international art. I was also attracted to the vibrancy of the Alserkal Avenue district, an area where so many different industries rub shoulders.”

Custot has hopes of taking the time to explore and incorporate influences from the local art landscape, but initially the gallery will have a more international bent. “The key aim behind the exhibitions that will take place will be to offer a comprehensive overview of the very best of international art to art enthusiasts in Dubai and those passing through the city,” he says, “and to give people the chance to view the creative trends and works which have only been exhibited sporadically in the region until now.”

The gallery’s presence further solidifies a gradually growing trend of museum quality work and experienced dealers from Europe and North America forging a permanent presence in the UAE beyond the annual art fair circuit. It will be intriguing to observe how the region’s local and expatriate collectors respond over time.

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Interventions Issue #34, on page 34.