Abu Dhabi Art gets bigger

Maha Malluh, Sky Clouds (2009-2015) by Galerie Krinzinger Vienna at Abu Dhabi Art 2023

The fifteenth edition of Abu Dhabi Art, which runs 22-26 November 2023, will be the largest yet – there will be 92 gallery booths (a few galleries are in more than one section). They include 37 new and 55 returning galleries, and they come from a total of 32 countries; 18 of them are from the UAE, with Georgia, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, and Chile represented at the fair for the first time.

The gallery roster represents a sizeable increase on last year, which had 78 galleries. Abu Dhabi Art’s director Dyala Nusseibeh said that this year “represents a significant moment in the fair’s history … We are delighted to be able to attract such a diverse range of artists and galleries from around the world”.

She added that the growth was due in part to the work of Abu Dhabi Art’s global gallery representatives. Those are responsible for selecting/inviting galleries in four different sections – three geographies (Hong Kong, North Africa and West Asia, and Latin America) plus one for ‘Sustainability’.

The value of the fees received must be an important factor, but Chris Wan Feng, gallery rep for Hong Kong, summarised the point of this approach as “reflecting [Hong Kong’s] unique and rich historical context, and the exciting contemporary art scene taking place now in the region. I am confident that the encounter and exchange with the audience of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair will further develop and strengthen our art dialogue between the two regions”. The first part seems eminently sensible, the second is perhaps more of a reach: the “art dialogue” between the two regions presumably comes down to buyers investing in art from elsewhere that they might not have seen before.

“The presence of so many new galleries at the Fair signifies how dynamic the local and regional art market has become over the last 15 years. By working closely with curators, gallery representatives, galleries and artists, we are also ensuring that our gallery presentations offer unparalleled access to art histories and research, ensuring visitors have the opportunity to better understand these wide-ranging global positions.”

The meat of the fair, the Modern & Contemporary section, will have 40 galleries.

Details of the public programmes and special commissions have yet to be announced, but the fair’s Visual Campaign Artist for 2023 is Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim – noted for his commitment to the environment and natural beauty of his birthplace, Khorfakkan. The Visual Campaign Artist for the programme is tasked with creating the fair’s visual campaign, and the chosen images are then used across marketing materials to define the identity of the fair.

Abu Dhabi Art is at the Manarat Al Saadiyat as usual, open 5-9pm on the VIP-invites-only day, Wednesday 22 November, and 2-9pm for general admission on Thursday 23 to Sunday 26 November. Entry is free on the non-VIP days, but you need to preregister online to get a complimentary ticket (the booking link wasn’t available when we went to press, but it will soon be accessible via the website).

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