The oil of the canvas

Art Dubai: A report of the happenings in the land of opportunity - Georgina Maddox
Bose Krishnamachari, has been smiling a lot recently. Perhaps it has to do with the super success of the Dubai show that he curated at Malini Gulrajani’s gallery, 1X1, titled Af-fair, that had 20 artists displaying the best of their works as a parallel event to the Dubai Art Fair.

The reason Dubai has been responding so well to Indian art is because of the opening up of the economy and there seems to be a lot of art business being done under and over the counter. However, besides the monetary aspect, residents as well as the government in Dubai seem interested in a new aesthetic which is bolder and not just pretty, palatable art.

Heman Upadhyay, an artist who particularly enjoys art fairs, says, “Last year I didn’t attended the show since I found it a bit substandard. But this time around, I realised the Dubai Art Fair was much better and gave us a great platform in representation nationally and internationally.”

Keeping in mind that there is a buzz of the Louvre and Guggenheim museum coming to Dubai, the art fair is a good way of conditioning its people to look at international art. “The fact that they have allowed works like this to come into the country shows that they are opening up,” she adds.

“My show was smaller in comparison to the Art Fair, but the representation was so strong, that it gave a good idea about the Indian art scene,” says Bose.

Amidst the celebratory tone of the show, Sudarshan Shetty’s voice comes as a reality check. He says, “I guess there is some art activity in Dubai like the fair happening and a few galleries, but you need artists of quality to practice in their local environs. All the art cannot be imported from Europe and India. I think it may take at least five to 10 years, before we can say that the art scene is truly thriving in Dubai buying and selling is not enough.”

The change may be a gradual one but talk has it that not only the big museums will be coming to Dubai, but a few auctions houses are planning to open their offices there. Perhaps M F Husain was right when he said, “If I can be appreciated in Dubai then why not in India?”
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