With the rising popularity of modern and contemporary Arab art, buyers and dealers from across the globe descend on Dubai, hunting for the next big thing. The city itself has become a creative hub for the Middle East where rich patrons continue to feed the market, allowing it to grow ever larger and more diverse; funding new ways of seeing and experiencing art.
As a hotbed of talent, artists from across the Gulf, North Africa, the Levant and Iran are being successfully filtered through Dubai’s galleries. From just a handful of young, hopeful art lovers back in 2004 has grown a multitude of white-walled spaces providing contemporary local and international artists a home for their work.
While the world is already versant with auction houses such as Christies, who have done much to boost the profile of Dubai as an art capital, events such as Art Dubai have given local talent an opportunity to expose their work to an international audience. Much has already been gained in the Emirates, and much more is yet to come with the emergence of a new generation of galleries across the UAE.
The Ayyam Gallery carved its reputation in Damascus in 2006, launching the careers of young Syrian artists, giving local talent a voice through art prizes, exhibitions and publishing. Former financier and art lover Khaled Samawi founded the gallery as a way to display his private collection of then more than 300 artworks. It has grown beyond its borders and found a second home in Dubai. Representing over 20 contemporary Syrian artists, Samawi believes that their work holds an equivalent value in the international market, and that it is only a matter of time before European art buyers realize the deep value inherent in modern Middle Eastern art. Visit the website to review current exhibitions and take a trip to the gallery to judge for yourself.
The Ayyam is typical of the new wave of artspaces recently opened in the city, whereas the Basement gallery and Carbon 12, both acknowledge local artistry but in addition invite artists from London and New York to exhibit well known works. Carbon 12 cites itself as the region’s first truly international art space hosting ten exhibitions each year, opening each one with a vernissage. Their highly successful first show included works by Thierry Feuz, Tor Magnus and Katherine Berhnardt.
Even the denizens of style at Boutique One have amalgamated a bijou gallery within their minimalist fashion outlet that overlooks the sea. Managed by renowned Lebanese curator Fadi Mogabgab, the gallery has high ambitions for its future. It brings together the stars of Occidental and Oriental art, exhibiting unique talents such as Eric Bottero, Alexander Calder, Joan Miro and Marwan Sahmarani.
Traffic, Al Barsha
Tel. +971 (0)4 341 8494
Carbon 12, Dubai Marina
Tel. +971 50 464 4392
Ayyam Gallery, Al Quoz
Tel. +971 (0)4 3236242
El Saadiyat Project, contemporary art
Historic auction houses