The 16th edition of Art Dubai, Downtown Design’s sister-event, took place 1-5 March 2023 at its home in Madinat Jumeriah. The leading international art fair for the Middle East and Global South presented its most extensive programme, offering its visitors a premier platform to see and buy modern art.
Throughout the five-day fair, the wide-spread programming featured presentations from globally renowned galleries, an ambitious talks programme and a dedicated non-for-profit programme featuring Art Dubai’s year-round initiatives.
This year the fair offered an expanded gallery line-up of over 130 presentations from more than 40 countries and six continents, presenting some of the art world’s most exciting names across four gallery sections: Contemporary, Modern, Bawwaba and Art Dubai Digital. Art Dubai Contemporary welcomed 14 first-time exhibitors including: Concept (Paris), Barakat Contemporary (Seoul) and First Floor (Harare). Art Dubai Digital returned this year following a critically and commercially successful launch at the 2022 fair. The 2023 programme was be curated by Singapore-based educator and arts writer, Clara Che Wei Peh.
Bangkok-based Vipash Purichanont curated the 2023 edition of Art Dubai’s Bawwaba section. Meaning ‘gateway’ in Arabic, Bawwaba exclusively featured artworks made in the past year or specifically for Art Dubai and comprised of solo presentations by 11 artists hailing from across the Global South. Reinforcing Art Dubai’s commitment to curatorial scholarship and art historical research, this year’s Art Dubai Modern featured solo presentations by the region’s Modern masters and was curated by Paris-based critic Mouna Mekouar and Italian art historian, Lorenzo Giusti.
Talks and Workshops
Art Dubai’s artistic programme was complemented by the fair’s wide-ranged multidisciplinary conference and thought-leadership programme. The talks featured the brightest cultural and creative minds engaging in dialogue, featuring diverse voices and a focus on development of Dubai’s cultural infrastructure. The programme consisted of more than 50 sessions with highlights including: Art Dubai’s flagship Global Art Forum, the first Dubai edition of Christie’s Art+Tech summit, a series of Modern and Collector talks developed in partnership with Dubai Collection and a new event in partnership with the Art Business Conference that focused on sustainability.
The third edition of the A.R.M Holding Children’s Programme hosted workshops over the week that were specially developed by Swedish artist, Jacob Dahlgren. Entitled The Flag Project, the programme included hands-on workshops, where children of all ages used everyday craft materials and scrap fabrics, creatively collaging together designs that were then sewn and transformed into flags. The programme is now expanding to over 90 schools and 8,000 children over two months, in what is the UAE’s largest cultural education programme.
Campus Art Dubai (CAD), Art Dubai’s flagship initiative to develop the region’s future cultural leaders, is a core component of the fair’s extensive year-round education programme. This year marked the initiative’s 10th year and features CAD Public Art and CAD 10.0 Professional Development.
At the centre of the fair’s not-for-profit programme is Art Dubai Commissions, a platform that invites artists to produce site-specific works at the fair, supporting artistic production by local and international artists. Taking place in a purpose-built space, the 2023 Commissions programme comprised of daily performances and food-based experiences exploring themes of community, celebration, hope and connection.
Art Dubai’s Executive Director Benedetta Ghione commented: “Art Dubai has always tried to reframe what an art fair can be, and this year’s expanded programme fully reflected our role as a meeting point for the region’s creative industries, both commercial and not-for-profit. As an innovative public-private partnership, we have been an incubator of talent, a catalyst for the creative economy here in Dubai, a convener of great minds, and an entry point to this vibrant ecosystem for the wider cultural sector.”
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