The 2023 programme will include artists Almaha Jaralla, Samo Shalaby, and Latifa Saeed commissioned for Beyond Emerging Artists (BEA), curated by Morad Montazami; the 2023 Gateway exhibition, entitled Maqam, presenting a survey show for Emirati artist Hashel Al Lamki curated by Venetia Porter; and commissioned works in cultural sites across the emirate by established artists Nujoom Al Ghanem and Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim. The exhibitions and commissions will open to the public on 22 November and remain on view until the end of January 2024.
Beyond Emerging Artists (BEA)
Since 2017, Beyond Emerging Artists (BEA) has provided three emerging artists in the UAE with a platform from which to develop their practice and realise ambitious art projects. The selected artists undertake a year-long programme of workshops and studio visits under the mentoring and the supervision of a guest curator which leads toward the realisation of new projects for the Abu Dhabi Art Fair in November. The works remain on exhibition to the public for several months beyond the fair dates.
The three appointed artists for BEA 2023 are Almaha Jaralla, Samo Shalaby and Latifa Saeed. Currently working on new commissions, the artists will be revealing their work at the Fair in an exhibition curated by art historian, publisher, and curator Morad Montazami.
It is a pleasure and honour to be appointed as the curator for the groundbreaking Beyond Emerging Artists programme for the 15th edition of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair. I am delighted to be collaborating with all three artists who have impressed me with their technical skills and interdisciplinary approach, but also their mindset and vision. Beyond their clear differences as artists, there are also shared concerns which connect them and bring them together. All three navigate an interesting path between private and public space, or the subjective and the collective. Even more importantly, each artist seems to look forward to taking a meaningful step in their career, in producing an innovative installation for BEA 2023.Morad Montazami
BEA is supported by the Friends of Abu Dhabi Art. Launched in 2021, Friends of Abu Dhabi Art is made up of individuals who are actively committed to supporting art and culture in the emirate.
Gateway Exhibition: Maqam
The annual exhibition Gateway, which highlights local and international artists through unique perspectives, this year is curated by Venetia Porter, who has chosen to present a survey show for Emirati painter and multi-disciplinary artist Hashel Al Lamki.
The exhibition, entitled Maqam – after the residential neighbourhood of Al Ain where Al Lamki grew up – invites visitors to journey alongside him as he unveils his artistic odyssey. Like the melodic compositions of the maqam in music – a traditional pattern of melodic elements – this exhibition weaves together Al Lamki’s past works and current creations, offering a comprehensive understanding of his artistic evolution and his ambitions for the future. Within this creative journey, the interplay between natural landscapes and human intervention echoes as a profound underlying theme.
Venetia Porter commented: “I first saw Hashel’s work at the Lyon Biennale (2022), Manifesto of Fragility, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, and loved his large installation Rodinia. I was intrigued to find out more about him, and when I was invited to curate the Gateway show at 2023 Abu Dhabi Art, I immediately thought of him. Spending time with Hashel, I have been struck by the complexity and range of the art he has been making this past decade and his ambitions for the future. This show will reflect that, while also highlighting the depth of his love for Al Ain where he grew up, and his fascination with the geology and history of the UAE.”
Artist Commissions in Cultural Sites
Launched in 2017, Artist Commissions in Cultural Sites sees established artists invited to create site-specific works across Abu Dhabi emirate. The works by the commissioned artists will be revealed during the fair in November and remain on show to the public for two months afterwards.
This year’s commissioned artists are Nujoom Al Ghanem and Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, whose work will be showcased in Al Jahili Fort and Al Ain Oasis.
Renowned Emirati poet, artist, and multi-award-winning film director, Al Ghanem, commented: “I’m truly honoured to take part in this edition of the fair and I’m looking forward to sharing with its audience the work I’ve been creating since 2020. I spent a lifetime working in solitude under shades of colours and materials without knowing where my work will end up. Without realising it, art has become my magnificent companion and refuge. It has given me another medium of expression which turned out to be the most significant activity of my days.”
Through its year-round exhibitions and artist commissions, Abu Dhabi Art plays an integral role in supporting the art ecosystem in the region. The annual art fair continues to grow at a rapid pace as it reaches its 15th edition this November, recently announcing a record lineup of 90+ galleries from 31 countries in its biggest edition yet.
About Abu Dhabi Art
Abu Dhabi Art expands beyond the notion of a traditional art fair, in placing a strong emphasis on a diverse public engagement programme, including art installations and exhibitions, talks, and events that take place in different locations throughout the year. The culmination of this year-long programme is the annual Abu Dhabi Art Fair in November, which provides an important sales platform for participating galleries whilst also offering these galleries an opportunity to showcase ambitious installations and site-specific works by their artists to a wide audience.
The upcoming 15th edition of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair will be its’ largest yet, featuring more than 90 galleries from over 30 countries. With 37 new and 55 returning galleries, this year’s edition spotlights diverse geographies alongside curated exhibitions and commissions, positioning itself as a place of discovery for global art histories. The fair remains committed to welcoming new curatorial perspectives, embedding itself in the community, and playing an integral part in the art ecosystem in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. The 92 participating galleries in 2023 represent countries from around the globe – including, for the first time, galleries from Georgia, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, and Chile.
About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors, fuels economic progress and helps achieve Abu Dhabi’s wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organisations that define the emirate’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the emirate’s potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies, and systems to support the culture, creative and tourism industries.
DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the emirate’s people, heritage and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives, and creative thought.
About the Curators
Morad Montazami (France, 1981) is an art historian, publisher and curator. After working at the Tate Modern (London) between 2014 and 2019 as a curator for the Middle East and North Africa, he developed the publishing and curatorial platform Zamân Books & Curating, exploring Arab, African and Asian modernities. He has written numerous essays on artists such as Zineb Sedira, Walid Raad, Latif Al Ani, Faouzi Laatiris, Michael Rakowitz, Mehdi Moutashar, and Behjat Sadr, and curated exhibitions including Baghdad Mon Amour, Institut des cultures d’Islam (Paris, 2018); New Waves: Mohamed Melehi and the Casablanca Art School, The Mosaic Rooms (London), MACCAL (Marrakech) and Alserkal Arts Foundation (Dubai, 2019 -2020); Douglas Abdell: Reconstructed Traphouse, Cromwell Space (London, 2021); Monaco -Alexandrie: Le Grand détour. Villes – mondes et surréalisme cosmopolite, New National Museum of Monaco (2021 -2022).
Venetia Porter was Senior Curator for Islamic and Contemporary Middle East Art at the British Museum (1989-2022) where she is now Honorary Research Fellow. She studied Arabic and Persian and Islamic Art at the University of Oxford, and her PhD from the University of Durham is on the history and architecture of Medieval Yemen. She was the lead curator for the Albukhary Foundation Gallery of the Islamic World, opened 2018. Her research and publications range from Islamic tiles, Yemeni history, Arabic inscriptions and amulets to contemporary art, and include her mother’s autobiography, Thea Porter’s Scrapbook, which she edited (Unicorn Press, 2019). Her exhibitions include Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East (London 2006, Dubai 2008), Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam (2012), Reflections: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa (2021) and Amakin, 21,39 Jeddah Arts, 9th edition (Jeddah and Dahran 2022). Artists Making Books: Poetry to Politics, published by British Museum Press, will be out in August 2023 and accompanies an exhibition at the British Museum which is on until the end of 2023.
About the artists
Emirati conceptual artist, Almaha Jaralla, observes living environments as highly personal portraits. The Abu Dhabi – based artist places the focus of her paintings and photographs on the modern history of her local surroundings. Jaralla is preoccupied with the local architectural vernacular and the generational shifts that she has observed in the constructed environment. The artist often works from her own documentary photography as well as archival materials that offer insight into the Gulf at various moments in time. Jaralla uses colour theory to negotiate the complex sociocultural dynamics and ancestral histories that have contributed to her lived experience. Questions of identities – individual and collective – are interwoven throughout her output.
Samo Shalaby is an Egyptian Palestinian fine artist based between Dubai and London. Growing up in Cairo and Dubai before pursuing his artistic education at Central Saint Martins, Samo was exposed to a myriad of artistic expressions, styles, and forms of art-making that have shaped his unique creative oeuvre. Exploring fields such as stage design, costume design, and jewelry, Samo began integrating strands of theatrical essence into his work, infused with a distinct dramatic flair. His artistic explorations traverse the styles of antiquity, surrealism, and the grotesque, filtered through his own contemporary and personal lens. His work embodies an inherent fascination with blurring the boundaries between identity, culture, and high fashion, often through dichotomous narratives that lurk behind beautiful facades. Combining a range of aesthetics and motifs from various decades, Samo crafts new worlds that are familiar yet so far away. Whether on camera or canvas, symbolism, and storytelling are crucial elements for conjuring Samo’s vision into existence.
Latifa Saeed is a Dubai-based multidisciplinary artist who graduated from Zayed University with a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences in 2007. She obtained the Emerging Artist Fellowship by Abu Dhabi’s Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, in partnership with Rhode Island School of Design, in 2019. In 2021 Saeed received a grant from the Misk Art Institute in Riyadh and participated in the group show “Under Construction” at The Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Hall. She was also a finalist of the Richard Mille Art Prize, hosted by Louvre Abu Dhabi alongside its ‘Art Here’ exhibition in 2021, and participated in their group show “Memory, Time, Territory”. Saeed was recently the first Emirati artist to showcase work in Almaty, Kazakhstan with her solo exhibition “Black Silhouette”, curated by the renowned art historian, critic, and author Valeria Ibraeva.
Latifa Saeed commented: “The Beyond Emerging Artists programme marks a significant milestone in my artistic journey. I am excited about the prospect of collaborating with esteemed mentors and fellow artists. Through my artwork, I aspire to evoke a deeper understanding of our connection to the world and the ever-changing nature of our existence. I am wholeheartedly dedicated to making the most of this invaluable experience offered by the Beyond Emerging Artists programme. It is my hope that my art will resonate with audiences, inspire contemplation, and open new avenues of thought.”
Hashel Al Lamki
Born in 1986, Al Ain City, UAE Emirati painter and multi – disciplinary artist Hashel Al Lamki’s art unpacks the relationship between humankind and their habitat, the wild and constructed. Born in Al Ain City, in the shadow of the monumental Jebel Hafit mountain , Al Lamki bore witness to the complex social and spatial dynamics that followed exponential development in the Gulf. Al Ain’s Bedouin culture and distinct social values, its archaeological sites and rugged terrain formed a stark contrast to the rapid industrial and architectural growth that Al Lamki observed in the neighbouring emirates. In 2011 Al Lamki received his BFA from Parsons School of Design | The New School, New York City. He went on to contribute to several philanthropic collaborative projects in Central and North America. Al Lamki worked in disaster-stricken Guatemala and Haiti and within low social income communities in the US, his cultural projects united by a focus on sustainable practices and social cohesion. After seven years in New York, Al Lamki went on to live between Amsterdam, Netherlands and Taos, New Mexico, where he immersed himself in solution-finding for post-consumerism waste. Al Lamki’s approach follows the suggestion by Edward T. Hall, anthropologist and cross-cultural researcher, that the relationship between man and the cultural dimension is dialogical and “one in which both man and his environment participate in moulding each other”. Al Lamki’s compositions charter towering mountain ranges, pristine golf courses and architectural feats. They survey shifts in the ecosystem as much as they divulge changes in the social world, tracing intersecting stories of human migration, climate change, c3olonisation and evolution. Al Lamki refuses the separation of man and nature, his practice underscoring the dependency of mankind on natural resources and their subsequent responsibility for the environmental catastrophe that looms. His approach to art fuses social innovation, sustainability, and environmental consciousness. Inspired by scientific methodologies and local artisanal processes, Al Lamki’s palette comprises freshly formed pigments derived from natural resources in the MENA region. Through this process of alchemy, the artist articulates the fragility and scarcity of these elements as well as their immense natural powers.
Al Lamki commented: “As an important step in my artistic career, presenting this survey show will provide me with a moment to reflect on my previous work, analyse my current work in the studio, and plan key future steps working with Venetia Porter. I am extremely pleased and honoured by this opportunity and would like to dedicate this show to my hometown of Al Ain.”
Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim
Emirati artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim is part of the UAE’s first generation of contemporary artists from the late 1980s, an avant -garde scene that included Hassan Sharif, Abdullah Al Saadi, Hussein Sharif, and Mohammed Kazem. Ibrahim’s work has been inspired by a lifelong relationship with the environment of Khorfakkan, his place of birth, with the Gulf of Oman on one side and the Hajar Mountains on the other. This deep connection to his local environment repeats itself throughout his studio practice, whether through his installations, drawings or objects, and the materials he has worked with for over three decades. His hand made objects are shaped like primitive tools, bones or parts of trees and appear to have been unearthed from some ancient den, rather than handcrafted. His works on paper reveal his own form of language – inscriptions, lines and abstract forms that are reminiscent of ancient cave drawings – marking time and memory through meditative repetition. Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim is represented by Dubai based Gallery Lawrie Shabibi.
For more information, please visit https://www.lawrieshabibi.com/artists/159-mohamed-ahmed-ibrahim/.
Nujoom Al Ghanem
Nujoom Alghanem is a renowned Emirati poet, artist, and multi-award-winning film director whose achievements in the arts have been recognised both nationally and internationally. She was born in Dubai in 1962, has published eight poetry collections and produced around twenty films including short fiction, documentaries, and art films. Her films have won regional and international prizes. Alongside her artistic endeavors, she has worked as a professional mentor in filmmaking, art, creative writing, and as a cultural consultant. Nujoom considers filmmaking as her profession, whereas art and poetry are her passion. Nujoom Alghanem is represented by Dubai based Gallery Aisha Al abbar Gallery.
For more information, please visit https://www.aishaalabbar.art/artists/60-nujoom-alghanem/overview/.
For further updates about the fair and programme, visit: abudhabiart.ae.