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The 12th edition of Abu Dhabi Art opens as a virtual fair
Dia Al-Azzawi, Three Obelisks, 2017. Signed. Acrylic on canvas, 220 x 300 cm. Courtesy of Meem Gallery.

ABU DHABI.- Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, the 12th edition of Abu Dhabi Art will open on Thursday 19th November as a virtual fair, featuring 68 galleries and more than 200 artists from around the globe.

Collaborating with the largest number of curators to date, Abu Dhabi Art, which is organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), will run for an extended period, from 19th to 26th November 2020, with a series of commercial exhibitions dedicated to Contemporary art from South Korea, Africa, India, and the UAE alongside regular Modern and Contemporary booths, a dedicated performance art sector and the Beyond: Emerging Artists platform.

This year’s virtual fair will, for the first time, integrate live-stream video interviews with artists, curators and gallerists, and feature a lively talks programme.

Highlights include:

• Modern and Contemporary: 37 galleries from 15+ countries around the world will exhibit works in virtual booths offering curatorial frameworks for each presentation.

• The Day After: Abu Dhabi Art’s first ever sector dedicated to Contemporary African art. By leading curator Simon Njami, the sector brings together works from seven new galleries, exploring concepts of time during the pandemic.

• Material – Real: A new sector exploring Contemporary art from South Korea, curated by Sung woo Kim and featuring 13 new galleries.

• India Today: Curator Ashwin Thadani returns to Abu Dhabi Art to present works from across the Indian subcontinent.

• A Picture Held Us Captive: Nada Raza brings together five galleries to showcase works by Contemporary artists based in the UAE.

• Beyond: Emerging Artists: This year, the annual programme, which commissions new work by up-and-coming Emirati artists, is curated by Maya El-Khalil and dedicated to the theme of memory. It will showcase works by artists Hind Mezaina, Afra Al Dhaheri and Afra Al Suwaidi. Works can be viewed online and at Manarat Al Saadiyat, where they will be exhibited from 19th November until the end of December 2020.

• Performing Arts Programme: Curated by Rose Lejeune, the programme presents four new works by Alice Theobald, Raed Yassin, Maitha Abdalla and Nastio Mosquito, created during the pandemic and filmed in 360-degrees in Berlin, London, Abu Dhabi and Lisbon. Online visitors anywhere in the world can view the works through downloadable VR goggles using their mobile phones, while visitors based in the UAE can visit in person at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

• Talks Programme: with established speakers from the art community in the UAE, including Antonia Carver, Laila Binbrek, Reem Fadda, Nawal al Qassimi, Smita Prabakhar and Zain Massud, together with international participants including Chris Dercon, Fawz Kabra and Aimee Dawson, alongside participating curators and artists in the 2020 edition of the fair, the talks programme will aim to engage audiences in discussions related to the development of the art scene in the UAE over the past decade, Contemporary art practices in the country and art perspectives and insights from around the world.

Commenting on the Abu Dhabi Art virtual fair, HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi said: “Beyond its role as our emirate’s flagship art fair, Abu Dhabi Art is a key player within the UAE’s dynamic and multifaceted cultural ecosystem. A mirror of Abu Dhabi’s multinational population, the fair brings a diverse range of artists, galleries and cultural professionals together on a global platform that connects the regional and international art worlds. The fair is a key element within DCT Abu Dhabi’s strategy of placing culture at the centre of the emirate’s development and a testament to our long-term commitment to developing a creative and artistically conscious city.”

HE Saood Al Hosani, Acting Undersecretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi said: “We are particularly proud to see Abu Dhabi Art take place in this new and innovative format, given the effects of the current pandemic on the global art market. This represents a prime example of Abu Dhabi’s strength, resilience, and creativity. Abu Dhabi Art plays a vital role in supporting the development of a sustainable cultural ecosystem in Abu Dhabi, and therefore, it was extremely important to ensure the fair continued as a singular platform for our galleries to present their works, despite the limitations in not being able to hold a physical fair.”

Dyala Nusseibeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art said: “We are committed to supporting galleries that have been exhibiting with Abu Dhabi Art for years, while developing new markets for the Emirates. The 12th edition presents our most global fair to date in digital format – alongside select on-site projects in Abu Dhabi. We also continue to prioritise dynamic curatorial content, whether through the performance programme by Rose Lejeune, our Emerging Artists commissions or through curated gallery sectors that focus on Africa, South Korea and India.”

For the first time ever, internationally renowned guest curators are invited to work with galleries and artists to highlight works from a number of different geographies and present the work online. Simon Njami will work alongside a record seven participating galleries for ‘The Day After’, a sector dedicated to Contemporary art from across the African continent. The galleries include Afriart Gallery (Kampala) representing Richard Atugonza and Ahmed Abushriaa; Catinca Tabacaru Gallery (Bucharest) representing Chioma Ebinama and Terrence Musekiwa; Galerie Cécile Fakoury (Ivory Coast) representing Ouattara Watts and Dalila Dalléas Bouzar; Galerie Maia Muller (Paris) representing Hassan Musa and Myriam Mihindou; Galerie MAM (Cameroon) representing Patrick Yonkeu and Joel M’pahdoo; Septieme Gallery (Paris) representing Kaloki Nyamai and Yvanovitch Mbaya; and OH Gallery (Senegal) representing Gopal Dagnogo and Aliou Diack.

Sung woo Kim, curating ‘Material – Real’, a section looking at Contemporary art from South Korea, will work with 13 participating galleries, including A-Lounge (Seoul) representing Sunny Kim; Arario Gallery (Seoul) representing Jang Jongwan; Gallery Baton (Seoul) representing Chung Heeseung; Gallery Chosun (Seoul) representing Jeong Jeong-ju; Gallery Hyundai (Seoul) representing Lee Seulgi; GALLERY2 (Seoul) representing Jeon Hyunsun; Gana Art (Seoul) representing Back Seung Woo; Hakgojae Gallery (Seoul) representing Lee Woosung; Johyun Gallery (Busan) representing Lee Bae; P21 (Seoul) representing Choi Jeong Hwa; PIBI Gallery (Seoul) representing Chun Eun; Whistle (Seoul) representing Ram Han and SPACE Willing N Dealing (Seoul) representing Baek Kyungho.

Ashwin Thadani curating, ‘India Today’, a sector looking at the Indian subcontinent, will work with six galleries, including Exhibit 320 (New Delhi), Galerie Isa (Mumbai), Gallery Espace (New Delhi), Grosvenor Gallery (London), Threshold Art Gallery (New Delhi) and Vadehra Art Gallery (New Delhi).

Nada Raza will work alongside five participating galleries for ‘A Picture Held Us Captive’, a section on Contemporary artists represented by UAE galleries. The galleries include The Third Line (Dubai), Carbon12 (Dubai), Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde (Dubai), Green Art Gallery (Dubai) and Grey Noise (Dubai).

The Modern and Contemporary section of the fair will feature 37 participating galleries including 1x1 Art Gallery (Dubai), Agial Art Gallery (Beirut), Aicon Contemporary (New York), Almine Rech (New York, London, Paris, Shanghai), ATHR (Jeddah), Ayyam Gallery (Dubai), COLNAGHI (London), Custot Gallery (Dubai), Galerie Elmarsa Gallery (Dubai), Etihad Modern Art Gallery (Abu Dhabi), Galerie Brigitte Schenk (Cologne), Galerie Janine Rubeiz (Beirut), GALERIST (Istanbul), GALLERIA CONTINUA (San Gimignano), Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde (Dubai), Gallery Lee & Bae (Busan), Gazelli Art House (London), Giorgio Persano (Turin), Hafez Gallery (Jeddah), Hanart TZ Gallery (Honk Kong), Hunar Gallery (Dubai), Le Violon Bleu (Carthage), Leehwaik Gallery (Seoul), Leila Heller Gallery (Dubai), Marian Goodman Gallery (New York), Meem Gallery (Dubai), October Gallery (London), Pi Artworks (Istanbul), Sabrina Amrani (Madrid), Salwa Zeidan Gallery (Abu Dhabi), Sapar Contemporary (New York), Zawyeh Gallery (Dubai), The Park Gallery (London), Tabari Art Space (Dubai), Lawrie Shabibi (Dubai), HdM (Beijing) and Khak Gallery (Tehran and Dubai).

Abu Dhabi Art’s virtual edition will be live from Thursday, 19th November to Thursday, 26th November 2020 and accessible to visitors here.

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