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Heart Space by Krista Kim, installation view. Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Julius Baer

Swiss Wealth Management Group Julius Baer has a deep routed relationship with art. In this interview, we catch up with Regis Burger, Head of Middle East & Africa and Alireza Valizadeh, CEO of Julius Baer (Middle East) Ltd. on how this link with art translates to the region with the organisation’s partnership with Art Dubai.

The collaboration with Art Dubai, which started in 2015 is in line with Julius Baer’s commitment to supporting the UAE’s emergence as an art and cultural hub.

Rich association

“Our relationship with art is deeply ingrained in our DNA as much as our Swissness,” says Burger. “Since more than 40 years, the main idea was that art should be an integral part to the culture and environment of the bank.”

“Established in 1981 by Hans J. Baer (1927-2011), the collection was inspired by his belief that art in the workplace offers a wonderful starting point for conversation. The Julius Baer art collection comprises a comprehensive selection of contemporary Swiss art that numbers over 5’000 pieces, spanning a wide array of media,” adds Burger.

“Paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, graphics, and drawings are displayed in Julius Baer’s meeting rooms, staff restaurants, offices, foyers, and corridors around the globe. Today, the works continue to engage and intrigue both employees and visiting clients.”

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Régis Burger, Head of Middle East & Africa, and Alireza Valizadeh, CEO of Julius Baer (Middle East) Ltd. shed light on bank’s deep-rooted relationship with art. Image Credit: Supplied

Promoting art in the UAE

Julius Baer’s narrative of expansion aligns seamlessly with the evolution of Dubai and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), its home base in the UAE. As the institution approaches its 20th anniversary in 2024, the wealth manager actively contributes to positive cultural change through its involvement in Art Dubai.

“While it is important that we have a culture that promotes discussions around art, it was crucial for us to showcase this support in the communities we live and work in,” says Valizadeh.

“Promoting art is like a social responsibility for us. This is one of the reasons we entered into a partnership with Art Dubai in 2015 to engage our clients in the UAE, our core strategic growth market in Middle East & Africa. Being the largest international art fair for the Middle East based out of Dubai, Art Dubai is a great example of the diverse cultural amalgamation that we see in Dubai. It is a perfect way to engage in a dialogue about perspectives on art, life and everything in between.”

Since more than 40 years, the main idea was that art should be an integral part to the culture and environment of the bank.

- Régis Burger, Head of Middle East & Africa, Julius Baer

“We thrive on collaboration and take pride in working with partners such as Julius Baer who share our long-term vision of laying strong foundations for the future and without whom these programmes simply would not be possible. Our partnership with Julius Baer, which is now entering its 9th year, continues to expand in scale and ambition. It also exemplifies how businesses and institutions can harmoniously innovate and create opportunities for artists,” says Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director at Art Dubai.

“Julius Baer has led the way in corporate patronage for the arts, boasting not only one of the world’s leading corporate collections but also demonstrating a commitment to giving back to Dubai’s art community. We look forward to this exciting journey together,” she adds.

Art Dubai 2024

Every year, Julius Baer hosts its clients in a custom-built VIP lounge at Art Dubai and uses it as a platform to highlight artists whose concepts link to Julius Baer’s next generation investment themes.

“For Art Dubai 2024, we are very excited to partner with Krista Kim to unveil the immersive commission titled ‘Heartspace’, which will connect guests with one another to create a social fabric harnessing the power of art and technology. Kim will be a part of Julius Baer’s NEXT universe, an initiative that was launched in 2023 allowing us to work with foresighted artists to amplify innovation. Through the commission, we want to showcase the emergence of mega trends such as Shifting lifestyles and longevity and use art as a medium to convey these messages to our clients and the wider public,” says Burger.

Promoting art is like a social responsibility for us. This is one of the reasons we entered into a partnership with Art Dubai.

- Alireza Valizadeh, CEO of Julius Baer (Middle East) Ltd.

Kim’s installation for Julius Baer at Art Dubai, entitled “Heart Space - مساحة القلب ”, is an immersive experience that allows guests to connect with one another through the universal language of the human heartbeat. The installation’s main aim to put forward the concept of “oneness” where participants come together to create a social fabric harnessing the power of art and technology.

The idea reflects back to Kim’s concept of continuing to explore the creative potential to utilise screens as digital instruments of well-being.

Part of Julius Baer’s NEXT universe, Kim is the perfect blend of art, science and technology creating conversations around longevity, wellness and the power of the blockchain.

“I’m profoundly thankful to Julius Baer for enabling such an ambitious vision as ‘Heart Space’ – one amplifying AI technology’s power to reconnect where social media algorithms have fractured,” says Kim.

“As individuals participate, I hope each person feels inspired in their singular beauty yet leaves appreciating a greater whole. If just one person grasps our shared social fabric’s sanctity after engaging with this work, I’ll consider it a success.

“My deepest wish is that from the micro – encoding each distinctive rhythm – to the macro tapestry those strands weave by exhibit’s close, visitors rediscover how alike our heartbeats sound when truly heard.”

Julius Baer and Art

For nearly four decades, Julius Baer’s Art Collection has centered on discovering exceptional Swiss artists in their early stages, supporting emerging talent, and acquiring works at the onset of the artists’ careers. To complement its Art Collection, Julius Baer also launched NEXT, an designed to encourage the interdisciplinary exploration of megatrends across the arts, science, and technology in 2023.

Focusing on megatrends, which affect society at large, the initiative is designed to support collaboration with forward-thinking artists and institutions committed to new forms of cultural production (i.e. visual arts, film, music, dance, etc.) at the vanguard of scientific research and technological development – which are both drivers of progress and at the core of our thematic NextGen approach. For the initiative’s first project, Julius Baer commissioned internationally renowned digital artist Refik Anadol who created "Glacier Dreams", which was successfully inaugurated at Art Dubai 2023 before making an appearance in Singapore and Basel.

About Art Dubai

Art Dubai’s growth and evolution are intrinsically linked to that of Dubai, a city known for its restless and relentless innovation. Since its first edition, the fair has become the most important meeting point and platform for creatives and communities across the region.

Art Dubai’s role is principally to convene the brightest minds from artists, curators and scholars to institutional partners, corporate brands and businesses, in an ambitious programme that consistently challenges the status quo.

Education and thought leadership are integral to this mission. The fair hosts the most ambitious thought-leadership programme of any international art fair, supporting creative and cultural education, from the very first introduction to culture that children have in schools, to professional development programmes for the next generation of cultural leaders, to working with long-term partners to commission cutting-edge and innovative artists.

Art Dubai will take place from 1-3 March 2024 at Madinat Jumeirah.

This content comes from Reach by Gulf News, which is the branded content team of GN Media.