Art Dubai 2018 opening sees major tie-ups with Misk, Jameel Art Center

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This year’s edition of Art Dubai has seen major tie-ups with Saudi arts institutions, thereby adding strength and depth to the contemporary art movement in the Gulf.

Misk Art Institute, operating under the auspices of the Misk Foundation, established by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, announced a partnership with Art Dubai that will materialize through exhibitions and talks documenting and celebrating modern and contemporary art of the Arab world.

Misk Art Institute is the exclusive partner of Art Dubai Modern, featuring 16 galleries from 14 countries.

The regional launch of a seminal new publication supported by Misk Art Institute took place on March 19 evening at the opening of Art Dubai Modern, with a discussion between Dr Sam Bardaouil andD Dr Nada Shabout. A pioneering new volume titled ‘Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents’, from the Museum of Modern Art, the publication includes manifestos, essays, transcripts of round table discussions, diary entries, exhibition guest-book comments, letters, and more – many of which appear here for the first time in English.

At Art Dubai Modern, Misk Art Institute as part of its tie-up with Art Dubai, is also presenting a 75-artwork survey mapping the modernist art movements that emerged in the Arab world from the 1940s to 1980s. A close look at five schools in Casablanca, Cairo, Riyadh, Khartoum and Baghdad reveal the diverse intellectual and formal approaches that characterized this fervent period.

It is appropriately titled ‘That Fervent Leap into the Fierceness of Life’ curated by Dr Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. It derives its title from the 1951 founding manifesto of the Baghdad Group for Modern Art, reflecting these artists' passionate contributions to modernism within their respective socio-political contexts.

The exhibition 'That Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life' surveys five Modernist artist groups and schools spanning five decades and five Arab cities: the Contemporary Art Group in Cairo (1940s/1950s), the Baghdad Group for Modern Art (1950s), the Casablanca School of Art (1960s/70s), The Khartoum School (1960s/70s), and Dar Al-Funoon Al-Saudia in Riyadh (1980s).

Elsewhere in the fair, Misk Art Institute will take a look into contemporary movements shaping Saudi Arabia through a limited-edition publication produced in partnership with Saudi Art Guide and a preview of ‘Reframe Saudi’, a virtual reality film that takes a look inside the working studios of artists in the Kingdom. The film explores the Kingdom from the perspectives of a new generation of contemporary artists.

Art Dubai Director Myrna Ayad commented: “We are delighted to partner with the Misk Art Institute, an organization which shares our support for educational initiatives in the arts and culture sector. No doubt, Misk’s activations in both the Contemporary hall by way of VR presentations, and the Modern hall through its support of the exhibition, 'That Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life', will augment the overall visitor experience to the fair.”

Ahmed Mater, Director of Misk Art Institute added: “It feels particularly fitting to forge this partnership through the presentation of Art Dubai Modern. When considered in the context of wider Arab visual arts narratives, both Misk Art Institute and Art Dubai are relatively young, yet it is through these historical channels that we have come together. Though we are newly inaugurated, our focus does not depart from the past; instead, we embrace regional art histories and cultural archives as the substantial and essential foundations of sustainable future growth. In many ways, the very existence of our institution is predicated on the strength, understanding and preservation of these cultural narratives – with them, we can build new, rooted stories for the future.”

The Art Dubai official press conference on Tuesday was the venue for announcements by the Saudi-based Art Jameel of the opening date of Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, and also a new partnership with the Abraaj Group Art Prize Collection.

The Jameel Arts Centre will open its doors on November 11, 2018, in Dubai coinciding with Dubai Design Week and the Centre will become home to the full collection of works commissioned through the 10 years of the Prize.

Jameel Arts Centre, Northside view from the Creek. (Courtesy of Serie Architects)
Jameel Arts Centre, Northside view from the Creek. (Courtesy of Serie Architects)

Thirty major works by artists from the MENASA region – including Jananne Al-Ani, Kader Attia, Basim Magdy, Huma Mulji, Wael Shawky, and the 2018 winner, Lawrence Abu Hamdan (featured at this year’s Art Dubai) – will be loaned long-term to the new Dubai institution.

Art Jameel will not only exhibit the works to a broad public through its own arts spaces, but also commits to maintaining the current active loans policy of the Abraaj Group Art Prize; to date works have been shown at, among other sites, Guggenheim and the New Museum, New York; MACBA, Barcelona; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and the biennials of Sharjah, Sydney, Singapore and Venice. The Abraaj Group Art Prize is awarded annually during Art Dubai in March.

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