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The Abraaj Group announces winning artists and curator for the US$100,000 Abraaj Group Art Prize 2017
Rana Begum, No.531, detail, 2014. Paint on powder-coated aluminium, 200 x 295 x 5cm - 30 sections. Courtesy of the artist and Jhaveri Contemporary. Photography by Philip White.

DUBAI.- The Abraaj Group announced today the curator, winning artist and shortlisted artists selected for the ninth Abraaj Group Art Prize, the most significant arts prize in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2017 Winning Artist:  Rana Begum, Bangladesh

The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2017 Shortlisted Artists:  Doa Aly, Egypt  Sarah Abu Abdallah, Saudi Arabia  Raha Raissnia, Iran

The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2017 Guest Curator:  Omar Berrada (Director, Dar al-Ma’mn; a library and artists residency in Marrakech)

2017 marks the 9th edition of the Prize, which has been recognised globally as an exceptional platform for artists working in the region. The jury received a record number of applications from 61 countries earlier this summer; more than double the number received in 2015.

Annually, the $100,000 award enables the winning artist to develop a new commission – a “dream project”, and recognises the shortlisted artists with cash prizes of $10,000, used to support the development of their artistic practice. The new commission will be unveiled at Art Dubai to a global audience of museum directors, collectors, artists, gallerists, and thousands of members of the public. Omar Berrada will curate the exhibition, drawing together works from the shortlist, and presenting them in dialogue with Rana Begum’s new commission.

Winning artist Rana Begum, said: ‘"It is such an honour to win the Abraaj Group Art Prize. I have greatly admired the winning artists and works of previous years and consider it a privilege to follow in their footsteps."

On his plans for the exhibition, Omar Berrada said: ‘After working with the Global Art Forum in previous years, I am delighted to return to Art Dubai as guest curator of the Abraaj Group Art Prize. As someone who is concerned with art infrastructure in the South, I am grateful to Abraaj for generously and consistently supporting artists in and of the MENASA region over the last nine years, providing a crucial platform for new productions and international exposure. Rana Begum, Doa Aly, Raha Raissnia and Sarah Abu Abdallah are four exceptional artists who were selected from a very strong pool of several hundred applicants. They are artists with very diverse backgrounds and practices, though I see fascinating echoes between their respective approaches, which I look forward to exploring further and articulating into an exciting and thought-provoking exhibition.’

Commenting on the strength of the winners, Dana Farouki, Chair of the jury, said: ‘The strength of this year’s Prize proposals impressed the jury, and the selection was made all the harder by the number of applications, which continues to increase annually. Rana’s ambitious proposal will be a remarkable addition to the Art Dubai programme next year. We are also looking forward to Omar’s thoughtful curatorial contributions, not only in working with Rana to realize the commission but also in putting together an exhibition with work by the shortlisted artists.’

The Abraaj Group Art Prize Collection – comprised of works commissioned as part of the prize – has a highly active lending policy, with works having been exhibited across five continents, 11 biennales, 31 institutions and 25 countries., including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art (Washington D.C), Sharjah Biennial, Kochi-Muziris Biennale and Biennale of Sydney.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize has taken place annually at Art Dubai since 2008. Art Dubai is widely considered to be the leading art fair in MENASA; recognised for establishing global greater appreciation for artists and galleries from the region. The Prize is a cornerstone of Art Dubai’s extensive not-for-profit programme, which has grown in ambition annually since the fair was founded in 2007. The fair’s programme encompasses numerous on and off-site exhibitions, multiple performance art and public art commissions, as well as two of the region’s most well respected talk programmes: the Global Art Forum and Terrace Talks.

Marking the announcement, Frederic Sicre, Managing Director at The Abraaj Group said, ‘The art scene in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia is thriving. The Abraaj Group Art Prize, now in its 9th year, has played a role in creating global awareness on the creative and innovative talent that exists in the region, empowering and transforming artists’ journeys. After tough deliberations for this year’s prize, the jury finally came to a conclusion entirely based on merit, and we’re extremely proud to award four women who have displayed thoughtful and innovative approaches to their art.”

The Abraaj Group Art Prize jury 2016-17 was formed of renowned international museum curators and directors. Chaired by Dubai-based curator and patron Dana Farouki, it comprises of Defne Ayas, Director and Curator of Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art; Antonia Carver, Director of Art Jameel; Nav Haq, 2016 Guest Curator of the Prize; Fayeeza Naqvi, Founding Trustee, Aman Foundation; Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at Serpentine Galleries; Sandhini Poddar, Art historian and Adjunct Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Frederic Sicre, Managing Director, The Abraaj Group.

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