Abu Dhabi Art comes to London

Abu Dhabi Art is taking works by Emirati artists Hind Mezaina, Afra Al Dhaheri and Afra Al Suwaidi to London, with a show running at Cromwell Place from 2 to 13 June.

The pieces on show were created for last year’s annual Beyond: Emerging Artists programme at Abu Dhabi Art; they explore themes of memory and belonging in various ways.

Abu Dhabi Art has also invited some UAE galleries to exhibit alongside its show. Tabari Artspace will be there with recent multimedia works by Maitha Abdalla on the gravity and uncertainty of adolescence (gallery 12, 2-13 June); Lawrie Shabibi will have black and white paintings and papier-maché works by the UAE’s best established contemporary artist, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, who will be representing the country at the Venice Biennale in 2022 (also gallery 12, 2-13 June); The Third Line will show Sophia Al Maria, Anuar Khalifi and Sara Naim (gallery 5, 2-9 June); and Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde will have a solo show by Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan (gallery 8, 2-9 June).

London is essentially free of most Covid-19 measures at present, though a spike in cases of the Indian variant might mean a return to some restrictions. Right now though galleries are among the public venues that are allowed to open. Access to the Cromwell Place galleries is free, but booking is required.

Cromwell Place opened late last year. A £20 million conversion of five elegant townhouses near the V&A in South Kensington, it’s a novel concept, applying the co-working flexible-workspace idea to the art market for the very first time. So UK and international galleries, dealers, advisors, collectors and other art professionals pay for annual membership plus a usgae fee for the Cromwell Place services they require – from private offices and storage space to viewing rooms and galleries for exhibitions (it has 15 of them, ranging from 22m2 to 143m2).

There’s a UAE connection, too, in that Cromwell Place is the brainchild of John Martin – owner of the John Martin Gallery in Mayfair since 1992, but also co-founder (with Ben Floyd) of the Gulf Art Fair and its successor, Art Dubai. He was Fair Director of Art Dubai until 2009.

Meanwhile Abu Dhabi Art is planning a real-life return for this year’s edition at the Manarat Al Saadiyat from 18-21 November – we’re told there will also be “a strong digital presence through a number of online initiatives”, but there’s no word yet on what these will be. Applications are now open for galleries to exhibit at the 13th edition of the fair.

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