Art Dubai 2014 Transformation from Art Fair to International Art Platform

artwork by Pascal Hachem at SELMA FERIANI GALLERY. Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)
artwork by Pascal Hachem at SELMA FERIANI GALLERY. Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)


For the third year I visit Art Dubai I insist it is the leading art fair in the region, in terms of curating, programming and embracing. The fair became an annual international hub for all art communities. Here’s why:

  • Curating:
  1. There were two halls exhibiting contemporary art and they were not over-packed with artworks; galleries were minimalist creating space which allowed viewers to see everything hanged and displayed.
  2. A newly dedicated hall for modern art from Middle East & South Asia in Dubai Modern featuring 11 galleries, each of which presented a solo or two-person show by modern masters.
  3. Commissioned Art Dubai Projects were interactive, innovative and displayed everywhere outdoor by emerging Emiratis and foreigners artists.
  4. Global Art Forum title (Meanwhile… History) is certainly an international forum of culture and art matters from the heart of Middle East with sessions lived streamed in Arabic & English on the internet.
  5. Artists Talks and book launches were done daily; Samia Halaby, Five Decades of Painting and Innovation, Contemporary Kingdom book launch,  Rokni Haerizadeh, Fictionville and more.
  6. Different local and international initiatives and non-profits booths were all over the place providing an opportunity to integrate and socialize.
  • Programming:
  1. Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2014 was an absolute success (too successful I had to separate its’ review in different article).
  2. Sheikha Manal Children’s workshops were programming on daily bases, twice workshops for different age groups.
  3. There were daily screening for movies part of trio initiatives: Art Dubai, Dubai International Film Festival and Sharjah Art Foundation.
  4. Global Art Forum was bigger not only space but also speakers & topics.
  • Embracing:
  1. Art Dubai transformed from an art fair into a platform for emerging, established artists, curators, writers to communicate, exchange and interact. Who’s the next big shot upcoming artist? You’ll find many examples in Art Dubai.
  2. Not only people were embraced but also international galleries representing both western and Middle Eastern artists came together in one place which gives the opportunity to compare and study between all different levels and standards of mutual topics artists work on and present.

This quick conclusion and judgment is based on visiting three different art fairs in Arab countries including Art Dubai, it is fair to compare between fairs in emerging market, not with Miami Basel or Art Basel or Frieze – just to name a few. It is also unrealistic to compare between an art fair and Design fairs… Yes many did that and I could not help myself but think are these people kidding me?!


Maimouna Guerresi "Minarets" 2012. Archival pigment prints on aluminium. 200x54 cm. TASVEER GALLERY (New Delhi / Bangalore, India) Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)
Maimouna Guerresi “Minarets” 2012. Archival pigment prints on aluminium. 200×54 cm. TASVEER GALLERY (New Delhi / Bangalore, India) Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)


artwork by Hayv Kahraman at The Third Line, Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)
Artwork by Hayv Kahraman at The Third Line, Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)



However, if any art fair wants to be labeled international it should give up censorship… In fact its a MUST to forget artworks censorship. I understand we live in a complicated region that is restrained and relatively conservative but it is the role of art to break all rules, as it is a daring method that doesn’t only WOW people and make others acquire works to decorate their homes with, it is meant to make us think out of the box, open our eyes, revolt on what’s wrong and teach us acceptance of difference and odd… How is that happening if there is censorship?

Another element that benchmarks an art fair into international is becoming an open platform for all kind of topics in art. There wasn’t much provocative artworks , I mean what makes an artwork timeless is personally the communication one builds with work, how long did you engage with the colors, idea, media, concept? It doesn’t mean there were not mesmerizing pieces – in fact I have a list of over 20 eye catching artworks! – but not shocking like Khosrow Hassanzadeh’s ‘Dome’ featured in Art Dubai 2012, Barry X Ball’s PURITY or Oussama Diab’s New Guernica. The fair was politically-friendly and most artworks were personal storytellers rather than cultural shocking.

That being said, let’s talk highlights (source Art Dubai):

  • 85 participating galleries from 34 countries and featured the work of more than 500 artists. With a combined value in excess of US$45m, galleries reported healthy sales to local, regional and international collectors and institutions from the moment the buzzing collectors’ preview opened on March 18, and throughout the week.
  • Over 25000 visitors attended the fair during its four days. Witnessing highest-ever levels of attendance from universities and colleges, with more than 500 UAE and GCC-based students on specially organised tours.
  • The Sheikha Manal Little Artists Program, which featured workshops and Discovery Tours of the fair, attracted over 1000 children plus their parents.
  • Art Dubai and The Cultural Office have today signed an agreement to work together through 2015 and beyond, building on the success of the children’s programme at the fair.


details from Youngiin Jo "THE PRESENT MOMENT,,, ONCE BEAUTIFUL FOR OTHERS, A WISH FOR MY OWN, A REMINISCENCE FOR SOMEONE". 313 Art Project, Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)
details from Youngiin Jo “THE PRESENT MOMENT,,, ONCE BEAUTIFUL FOR OTHERS, A WISH FOR MY OWN, A REMINISCENCE FOR SOMEONE”. 313 Art Project, Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)

Visual Highlights in Contemporary & Modern


Art Dubai featured separated arenas for Modern & Contemporary, each one was vibrant with mesmerizing and eye-catching artworks and it took 3 dedicated days to see everything thus select my favorite. There was a strong presence of Middle Eastern galleries as well as international ones, presenting artists from all over the world creating a diverse, multi-cultural, interactive and vivid visual space that was a pleasure for visitors and collectors, which drives a strong competition between artists to produce their best; an open – again – platform to discover where art stands especially contemporary. Honestly I feel glad that some of these artworks are from galleries recommended earlier & based on BOLD, NEW, PROVOCATIVE and ODD, Al Mahha Art Top 50 Artworks in Art Dubai Contemporary & Modern are:

Nir Hod "Arab Spring II" 2014, 91.44 x 60.96 cm. Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Leila Heller Gallery and artist)
Nir Hod “Arab Spring II” 2014, 91.44 x 60.96 cm. Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Leila Heller Gallery and artist)


installation by Mark Dion "Underworld Hall" 2013. InSitu Gallery. Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)
installation by Mark Dion “Underworld Hall” 2013. InSitu Gallery. Art Dubai 2014 (Courtesy: Al Mahha Art)


  1. Mark Dion “Underworld Hall” 2013. In Situ/Fabienne Leclerc, Paris.
  3. Gordon Cheung “Second Nature”. Leila Heller Gallery, NYC | Dubai.
  4. Nir Hod “Arab Spring II”. Leila Heller, NYC | Dubai.
  5. Ayman Yossri Daydban, “White Buffalo”. Athr Gallery, Jeddah.
  6. Jowhara Al Saud 6 artworks titled “Negative”. Athr Gallery, Jeddah.
  7. Mehrdad Mohebali “Nearly Infinity #1″. Etemad Gallery, Tehran | Dubai.
  8. Mohamed El Baz “Autopise”.
  9. Pascal Hachem at SELMA FERIANI GALLERY, London | Tunis.
  10. Raja Aissa “Scheherazade 459″. SELMA FERIANI GALLERY, London | Tunis.
  12. Raja Aissa “Volatile 1″. SELMA FERIANI GALLERY, London | Tunis.
  13. Maimouna Guerresi “Minarets”. TASVEER GALLERY, New Delhi | Bangalore, India.
  14. Zoulikha Bouabdellah “Mauvaise Graine”. Sabrina Armani Gallery, Madrid.
  15. Hiba Kalache “The Impermanence of States”. Agial Art Gallery, Beirut.
  16. Julio Cesar Morales “We are dead”. Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.
  17. Naiza Khan “Miniature Worlds Collide”, Art Factum, Beirut.
  18. Naiza Khan “Ghost Blocks”, Art Factum, Beirut.
  19. Naiza Khan “Collapse”, Art Factum, Beirut.
  20. Hassan Hajjaj “Hindi Odalisque”. Rose Issa Projects. London.
  21. Hanieh Delecroix and Keyvan Saber at Rose Issa Projects, London.
  22. Khaled Jarrar “State”. Galerie Polaris, Paris.
  23. Ramin Haerizadeh “Carrot Cake, Carrot Cake Do You Have Any Nuts?” . Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde.
  24. Shirin Neshat, 4 artworks from (The Book of Kings) series. Gladstone Gallery
  25. Juz Kitson ‘The Desired desires the desire of the other’. GAGPROJECTS, Adelaide / Berlin.
  26. Rebecca Horn ” Butterfly with Black Volcano Stone”. Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch, Rome.
  27. Mourad Salem 4 artworks at Galerie Elmarsa, Tunis | Dubai.
  28. Mohamed El Baz LOVE SUPREME.  Galerie Iman Faris, Paris.
  29. Artwork by Prilla Tania. at D Gallery, Jakarta.
  30. Sama Alshaibi “Rub’ al Khali” at Ayyam Gallery: Damascus, Beirut, Dubai, London.
  31. Ammar Al Beik “Basic Instinct” at Ayyam Gallery: Damascus, Beirut, Dubai, London.
  32. Nadim Karam “Story Box 1” at Ayyam Gallery: Damascus, Beirut, Dubai, London.
  33. Diana Thater ‘Untitled’. Galerie Hussenot, Paris
  34. Haw Locke “Banque du Liban”. Hales Gallery, London.
  35. Haw Locke “The Ottoman Company Limited”. Hales Gallery, London.
  36. Antonis Donef ‘Untitled’. The Breeder, Athens | Monte Carlo.
  37. Zoi Gaitanidou “OBIATION”. The Breeder, Athens | Monte Carlo.
  38. Tiffany Chung “Berlin Wall” at Tyler Rollins Fine Art, NYC.
  39. Angelika Krinzinger “Ambras # 17”. Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna.
  40. Marina Abramovic “Ecstasy (A)”. Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna.
  41. Marina Abramovic “Ecstasy (B)”. Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna.
  42. Sara Rahbar “Tolerance”. Carbon 12, Dubai.
  43. Moris at Baro Galeria, Sao Paulo.
  44. Hayv Kahraman, The Third Line, Dubai.
  45. Rashid Alkhalifa. Albareh Art Gallery, Bahrain. (Modern)
  46. Rashid Alkhalifa, Metamorphosis. Albareh Art Gallery, Bahrain. (Modern)
  47. Nabil Nahas. Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai. (Modern)
  48. Hamed Abdalla. Karim Francis Gallery, Cairo. (Modern)
  49. Michel Basbous. Agial Art Gallery, Beirut. (Modern)
  50. Ardeshir Mohasses. Shirin Gallery, NYC | Tehran. (Modern)


All 50 artworks are in below slide show… See yourself why they are my favorite!


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That’s not it! Coming up in Al Mahha Art: Marker 2014, Abraaj Capital Art Prize, One/One with Basim Magdy, Innovations and Faces from Art Dubai 2014… Stay tuned!



5 Comments Add yours

  1. vasavan payyattam says:

    hi very nice pleased to see art encouragement you doing.I stuck at your web page when i am looking at art scenorio at dubai.I am a full.time artist working at kannur in India .I have conducted many solo of collage artwoks(paper collages) .many collactions are in India and abroad.My works include portraits,landscapes,and abstracts.I am like to introduce my works outside India .Hope you see and consider myworks vasavan payyattam

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