New structure, slightly fewer galleries for Art Dubai 2019

Art Dubai’s 13th edition features more than 90 galleries from 41 countries across its four sections. By way of contrast, that’s more than double the number of galleries at last week’s Abu Dhabi Art; but it’s down on Art Dubai’s 2018 record of 103 galleries from 47 countries.

Having galleries from 40+ countries means Art Dubai can still describe itself as the world’s most internationally diverse art fair, and the new four-section structure will allow visitors easier access to artists and sellers from non-Western areas.

The core of the fair remains the Contemporary section, and Modern is again presented alongside it in one of the two main gallery halls. This layout makes sense, but also allows the Modern galleries a larger booth space. Between the two sections a total of 69 galleries will be on show – see the full lists here for Art Dubai Contemporary and here for Art Dubai Modern.

The programme-cum-gallery section Residents, introduced last year, is continued; this project invites international artists for a six to eight week residency in the UAE to immerse themselves in the local art scene and produce new work to show at the fair with the artists’ respective galleries. For 2019 there are 12 such galleries, this time focussing solely on Latin America in 2019. The curators for this edition are Fernanda Brenner (Brazil) and Munira Al Sayegh (UAE); the selected galleries are here.

And there’s a new curated gallery section under the name Bawwaba. That’s Arabic for ‘gateway’ says Art Dubai, though we thought it meant ‘classify’ or ‘arrange’ (which still fits). This area focuses on solo projects from and about the Middle East, Central and South Asia, Africa and Latin America. The aim is obviously to cover different geographies, presumably for commercial reasons (to pull in a range of galleries who wouldn’t normally come to Dubai) as well as feature individual artists and works produced specifically for the fair.

The inaugural edition of Bawwaba is the work of French-Cameroonian curator Élise Atangana, and focuses on highly conceptual works including videos, installations and murals. The full list of galleries selected for Bawwaba 2019 is here.

Continuing the fair’s commitment to supporting the development of the local art scene, the pro bono interests of Art Dubai include a whole new non-commercial section showcasing young, local projects from the UAE. The artists participating in the Campus Art Dubai 7.0 programme will show here too.

Art Dubai’s Artistic Director Pablo del Val said the aim is to provide visitors to the 2019 fair with a new experience “by changing the gallery hall structure to allow for a more curated presentation with larger booths, enable a more cohesive reading of the different works on show, and highlight one of Art Dubai’s key focal points – art from and focused on the Global South”.

The changes seem to have gone down well: “With this new format, we received a record number of gallery applications and we are delighted to welcome both long-time returning galleries as well as newcomers, including first-time exhibitors from Cameroon and Colombia.”

The fair may have lost Abraaj, but it is still sponsored by luxury brands Julius Baer (private banking) and Piaget (watches), with not-too-shabby BMW as “the exclusive car partner of Art Dubai”, Madinat Jumeirah as its home, and Dubai Culture as a strategic partner supporting the fair’s year-round education programme.

More information about Art Dubai generally is here.


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