Green Art Gallery

Yasmin Atassi,

Green Art Gallery has been active in the region for nearly four decades and has had the privilege of bearing witness to the tremendous transformations in the regional art scene. Starting from the late 1980s in Homs, Syria, the gallery then opened in Dubai in 1995 with a programme focused on Arab Modernism.

Now in its second generation and its newest form, Green Art Gallery re-launched in 2010 as a contemporary art space in Alserkal Avenue. Its programme features artists working across diverse media, whose practices are rigorously researched, idea-led and representative of our current moment. The gallery represents a multi-generational mix of artists from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and beyond, including Turkish artists Hale Tenger and Hera Buyuktascian; Iranian artists Kamrooz Aram, Nazgol Ansarinia and Maryam Hoseini; and Shadi Habib Allah, Seher Shah, Ana Mazzei and Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck, who are Palestinian, Pakistani, Brazilian and Venezuelan respectively. In this geographic mix, the gallery reflects Dubai’s position as a cosmopolitan and global artistic hub.

You took over your family’s gallery in 2005. What were you doing before that?
Actually I took it over in 2008! Prior to that I worked briefly in the IT sector after graduating with a degree in computer science.

Could you tell us about your first exhibition, which acted as a statement for your programme?
I think that would the two-person exhibition with Kamrooz Aram and Seher Shah in 2012, curated by Murtaza Vali. We have been working with both artists ever since.

How do you feel about what you’ve achieved, being present in the UAE at a time when the country was most thirsty for culture?
It feels both a big privilege and a challenge. How do you continue to make demanding exhibitions and make an impact on the way your audience is changing and consuming culture? How do you continuously make relevant exhibitions? These are questions I always keep asking.

“My late mother chose the name Green Art Gallery back in 1995, and I didn’t want to change it when I took over”.

How would you describe the UAE art scene today and your relationship with it?
It’s incredible the change that happened in our art scene. I am very proud that we have contributed to this growth
in some way. The thing that motivates me is that the audience is becoming more and more demanding – that’s always a good sign. We are a key player in the UAE art scene, and whilst we have very much grown our brand internationally with several important art fairs, UAE remains our home and our roots.

Avoid Bad Dreams, Installation view at Green Art Gallery, 2019, Photo by Anna Shtraus. Courtesy of Green Art Gallery
Avoid Bad Dreams, Installation view at Green Art Gallery, 2019, Photo by Anna Shtraus. Courtesy of Green Art Gallery

Why did you choose the name Green Art for your gallery?
It’s a long story, but my late mother chose the name back in 1995, and I didn’t want to change it when I took over.

How would you define the identity of your gallery?
I think we remain a gallery that is very focused on research-based practices in the region. However, we have also grown to work with international artists whose practices and contexts are relevant to ours.

Could you tell us about your programme for 2020?
We are excited to be taking part in Art Basel Hong Kong for the first time, with solo Brazilian artist Ana Mazzei. In March we have our first solo show with Iranian artist Maryam Hoseini, and we’re very excited about that.

Opening year and key dates in the lifetime of the gallery:
1995 – present
2010 – moving to Alserkal Avenue
Key upcoming event in 2020:
Art Basel Hong Kong solo presentation by Ana Mazzei
First solo show by Maryam Hoseini in the Middle East