Five artists for Art Here 2024

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Art Here 2024, now in its fourth edition, has rapidly become a significant entry in the Middle East’s art exhibition calendar – a regional competition for 3D work that benefits from sponsorship by luxe watchmaker Richard Mille to the extent that one of the artists shown will get a not insignificant $60,000 cash award as part of the Richard Mille Art Prize.

This year, Louvre Abu Dhabi and guest curator Simon Njami invited responses to the theme ‘Awakenings’; the selected artists are tasked with translating the concept of openness into visual forms via sculptures or audiovisual installations “that address questions of today and the near future”. The resulting artworks will be shown at the museum from 20 September to 15 December 2024.

There were 230 submissions in total, and five have been selected for the exhibition. The competition this year has been expanded to include North Africa alongside the GCC, and three of the shortlist came from outside the Gulf. Franco-Tunisian artist Férielle Doulain-Zouari explores the coexistence of natural and artificial worlds via installations, sculptures, and weaving. Moataz Nasr from Egypt investigates the geopolitics and social development of Egypt and Africa, testing the notion of identity and belonging in a world of globalisation. And Nicène Kossentini (Tunisia) uses video to capture the slow transformation of people and things, revealing intimate places and bodies and uncovering the buried truths of her heritage.

The other two on the shortlist will probably be more familiar to local arty audiences – Lamya Gargash (Dubai) and Sarah Almehairi (Abu Dhabi).

Lamya Gargash usually works in film and photography to document the essence of inhabited and abandoned spaces, delving into cultural heritage amidst rapid modernisation, and capturing the beauty of human trace and the value of the mundane – “my desire for seclusion, and my grieving for our inevitable fate, has led me to find beauty in ordinary things and bring to life these reticent moments in time …” She’s a Third Line artist and has had several shows there, including one of our favourites.

Sarah Almehairi has worked in various media – sculpture, painting, book art, fibre art, photography, poetry – to explore themes of identity, language, materiality and memory. Now signed with Carbon 12, she was part of the 2019 Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre, was one of Abu Dhabi Art’s 2022 Beyond: Emerging Artists (a group which also went to Cromwell Place the following year), and was commissioned for Alserkal Avenue’s public art projects in 2022 for Alserkal Art Week – she transformed the passages alongside Concrete into a rather good visual poem with her work don’t overlook the weather (as your thoughts collect), asking visitors to linger and observe both the earth and the sky as they passed through.

Both artists have work in the Dubai Collection. We’re looking forward to seeing what they come up with for Art Here.

The jury for this year’s edition is an impressive collection of blue-chip names – Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, prominent patron and collector, founder of UAE Unlimited; Guilhem André, art historian and museum professional who is currently Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Scientific Curatorial and Collection Management Director; Nujoom Alghanem, noted Emirati poet, artist and film director; Maya Allison, founding director of the NYUAD Art Gallery; and Simon Njami, the exhibition’s curator.

Njami described ‘Awakenings’ as “a powerful theme that challenges artists to delve into moments of change, revelation, and transformation” and noted that his career has been focussed on unveiling new voices in contemporary art – “I look forward to discovering how artists from the GCC and North Africa interpret this concept and express their unique perspectives”.

The Art Here 2024 exhibition runs from 20 September to 15 December. It will take place under Louvre Abu Dhabi’s iconic dome, including the courtyard with the Damascene fountain and extending via a passageway towards a meditative shallow pool and the Jenny Holzer wall installation.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply