Beginning today, Abu Dhabi welcomes the world's top artists, curators, art dealers and other garden variety aesthetes to the region's newest art fair.
Abu Dhabi Art, which runs until Sunday, is only the latest plank of the Emirate's strategy to position itself as a global art capital.
"By bringing together a wealth of modern and contemporary art exhibitions, design events, engaging live programmes and more, drawn from our own region and from around the world, Abu Dhabi Art creates a modern-day equivalent of the cultural and intellectual exchanges of the ancient Silk Road," says Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Tourism Development and Investment Company and Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, joint organisers of the event.
At the core of Abu Dhabi Art is a new-model boutique-style art fair held in the Emirates Palace, featuring an exclusive selection of 50 art galleries from 19 countries representing the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the United States, many of which have never before exhibited in the region. Paintings, sculpture, photography, works on paper and video installations as well as book signings, lectures and workshops are all part of the event.
The works of more than 300 artists are at Abu Dhabi Art with fair prices ranging from the thousands to well above Dh10 million mark for museum-quality works.
Among those whose works are on display are Syrian poet and essayist Adonis, one of India's foremost abstract painters, Ram Kumar, Iranian painter Khosrow Hassanzadeh, Syrian painter and modern art pioneer Fateh Moudaress and Indian artists Bharti Kher, Thukral & Tagra and Dayanita Singh.
Major international names at the show include Joan Miró, Sean Scully, Antoni Clavé, Jeff Koons, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Dennis Hopper.
UAE artists represented include Jalal Luqman, Sheikh Salem Al-Qassimi, Lamya Gargash and Abdul Rahim Salem.
And a sculpture garden on the grounds of Emirates Palace features Rachide Khimoune, Subodh Gupta and Alexander Calder.
More information is available at www.artsabudhabi.ae.
Gallerist Claudia Cellini, who runs The Third Line art gallery in Dubai, told Emirates Business why Abu Dhabi Art is important in an email interview:
Do you expect much business at Abu Dhabi Art?
There is definitely hope for business at Abu Dhabi Art. The governmental initiatives announced over the past couple of years will foster an increase in interest and seriousness towards supporting the arts and we are excited to work with and meet new collectors from Abu Dhabi.
How have you done at previous UAE art fairs?
Working in the art world has yet to be easy, however we have been fortunate that there is a strong and dedicated collector base here with an interest in programmes at The Third Line.
What is the state of the art market at the moment? Are we still feeling the effects of the recession or are you optimistic?
We are certainly feeling the effects of the recession, but I can also say that the interest towards and in art has increased since the summer – especially internationally.
On a positive note, these are good times to show work that is more carefully thought out.
Do you expect buyers at last year's Art Paris Abu Dhabi to return?
Much of the collector base at ArtParis-Abu Dhabi that we dealt with were serious collectors from region.
Judging from what we have seen in the past, they are sure to come and visit Abu Dhabi again.