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HAPPENINGText: Mamiko Kawakami

Of course, the main event for Art Week is Art Dubai, which this year took place at the picturesque Madinat Jumeirah, overlooking the iconic Burj Al Arab.

Abraaj-Group-Art-Prize_2017_Rana-Begums-piece_Courtesy-of-Photo-Solutions-8- (1)
“Coloured glass panels”, Rana Begums. Courtesy of Photo Solutions

The winner of this year’s Abraaj Group Art Prize was Rana Begum, with her striking meditation on the geometric interplay between light and colour. The London-based Bangladeshi artist, represented by Dubai gallery The Third Line, vowed to dedicate the $100,000 prize to a “dream project”. 

“Golden Hour”, from the Series “Desert of Pharan”, 2011, Ahmed Mater, Color photograph, 3500 x 2500 mm. Photo: © Ahmed Mater

The respected Saudi artist, Ahmed Mater, also launched an exhibition from the series of his most recent book “Desert of Pharan: Unofficial Histories of The Mass Expansion of Mecca,” at the event. His recent work presents an alternative history of Saudi sociopolitical life. It is concerned with the representation of pressure points in the culture’s collective unconsciousness, depicted in films, video, image, performance and text.

“Droid Army”, from the series Dark Lens
, Cédric Delsaux, 2009, Photographic image on light box, 1795 x 1354 x 90 mm. Courtesy of the artist and East Wing

Also present at the fair was the Dark Lens series, by photographer Cédric Delsaux, which features Star Wars characters in ultramodern city setting of Dubai. The pictures, featuring droids, Darth Vader and even the Millenium Falcon, mix hyper-real cityscapes with a tongue in cheek humour. The series won rare praise from Star Wars creator himself, George Lucas, who said: “As novel and disruptive as his images are, they are also completely plausible.” 

Anila Quayyum Agha, ALHAMBRA NIGHTS
“Alhambra Nights” (Installation), Anila Quayyum Agha, 2016, Printed Acrylic and Bulbs, 762 x 686 x 762 mm (x9). Courtesy of the Artist and Aicon Gallery

Aicon Gallery exhibited works by emerging and contemporary South Asian artists. Their goal is to create a space for dialogue and cross-collaboration between the arts of India, Pakistan, and the West. The piece, by Anila Quayyum Agha is from her recent exhibition “Walking with My Mother’s Shadow,” a stunning use of geometry and shadow.

The event closed its curtain as another successful global fair, highlighting the innovation of emerging artists from the region. 
Indeed, attendees said the fair brought together a more diverse set of galleries than you’d see in New York or Paris. The most salient aspect of the fair is the sheer range of cultural diversity and free flow of ideas. It sends the message that, even in a world of rising nationalism and xenophobia, art has the power to bring us together.

Dubai Art Week 2017
Date: 12th – 18th March 2017

Text: Mamiko Kawakami

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