Design Days Dubai and Art Dubai: eight must-sees

From MENA's old masters to global contemporary art, Vision provides a comprehensive guide for this month’s must-see art events 

MENA’s 20th Century masters

Since 2014 Art Dubai Modern has been a dedicated area of the fair. 2017 sees the launch of the Art Dubai Modern Symposium, a series of talks and presentations focused on the life, work and cultural impact of 20th century masters from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Held over 3 days between the Modern lounge and Concrete, Alserkal Avenue, the symposium brings together curators, scholars, artists and patrons invested in this important moment in history.

The best of global contemporary art

Art Dubai Contemporary features 79 galleries from 41 countries, with strong representation from leading galleries in Europe, the US and Asia. 2017 sees the highest number of galleries from South America, 12 galleries from the UAE and a large contingent from Iran. The emerging gallery scene in Tehran is well represented: one example is Dastan’s Basement, founded by Hormoz Hematian, which this year presents a booth curated by Fereydoun Ave, also responsible for an exhibition ‘Image of Self’ at Total Arts, The Courtyard, Al Quoz.

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Nicène Kossentini's work centres on loss and movement

The Tunisian artist who captures loss

Sabrina Amrani, a gallery from Madrid with an interest in art produced in the Global South, present a solo exhibition ‘Fugitive’ by Tunisan artist Nicène Kossentini (C2). Fresh from a residency in Cordoba, Spain, the artist who is known for her minimalist drawings influenced by musical scores allows her ink to seep and stain. Any influence of Islamic motifs is fluid and transitory, her wider concern loss and movement, particularly via water as she examines the sea and the migrant crisis.

When tradition meets technology

teamLab are a Tokyo-based interdisciplinary group of ultra-technologies who seek to navigate the confluence of art, technology, design and the natural world. A collaborative presentation by Ikkan Gallery, Singapore, Pace Gallery, USA and Martin Browne Contemporary, Australia (A9) is Universe of Water Particles – Gold, a virtual waterfall created in a virtual 3D that references the depiction of space in pre-modern Japanese painting.

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This year, Yasmina Reggad's Art Dubai Commissions focus exclusively on performance art

A new wave of performance art

Yasmina Reggad is an Algerian curator based in Athens who has recently become intertwined with the arts community of the UAE. Resident curator with 2016 A.i.R programme, she also curated a show of Abdelkader Benchamma at Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde. This year Reggad is in charge of Art Dubai Commissions, which for the first time focuses exclusively on performance. Her diverse programme includes If – Then Goto, in homage to Hassan Sharif, which the curator will perform with dancer Lana Fahmi based on instructions left by the artist who passed away last September.

A platform for engaging cultural debate

The 11th edition of the Global Art Forum (GAF) kicked off in d3 and Sharjah this January and concludes on site at Art Dubai on Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah. Recognised as a leading international platform for engaging cultural debate, this year’s theme is Trading Places, focusing on the infrastructure of trade, financial markets, geographies and the mapping of pasts and futures. Highlights include a conversation on music between Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths and GAF co-director Antonia Carver, a lecture by Jaipur Festival Director William Dalrymple on the East India Company and an overview of the monumental projects by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

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Rana Begum, winner of the 2017 Abraaj Group Art Prize

Rana Begum, award-winning fine artist

The winner of the 2017 Abraaj Group Art Prize is Bangladeshi born Rana Begum. Her practice focuses on the interplay between light and colour in abstract forms, blurring the boundaries between sculpture, painting and architecture. Her new work will be unveiled on March 14 at Madinat Jumeirah’s water terrace. The exhibition seepage/ritual curated by Omar Berrada includes works by the shortlisted artists Doa Aly, Sarah Abu Abdallah and Raha Raissnia. Begum is also the subject of a solo exhibition at The Third Line’s booth at Art Dubai (A7).

The best of Britain

Design Days Dubai moves to a new site at Dubai Design District (d3), with a record number of local and regional exhibitors, affirming its position as an essential platform for Middle Eastern design culture. Marking the UK/UAE 2017 Year of Culture, celebrated author and designer Suzanne Trocmé curates ‘Britain Takes Shape’, an exhibition of 10 pioneers of British design, based on their eclectic and alternative approaches, who all produce in the UK and are being shown for the first time in the UAE. Examples include ‘handmade hi-tech’ pair Silo Studio, Philip Michael Wolfson formerly of Zaha Hadid Studio and ceramist Amy J Hughes.