BMW art Car
Image Credit:

What is Art Dubai?

Art Dubai returns for its 13th edition with a revamped structure, new sections and a performance programme that is focused on community building and facilitating a cohesive reading of international art and art historical narratives from different regions and periods. The art fair will be held at Madinat Jumeirah from March 20 to 23.

What can you see there?

More than 90 galleries from 41 countries will participate in Art Dubai 2019, showcasing artworks by more than 500 contemporary and modern artists with a special focus on Latin America, the ‘Global South’, and grassroots arts initiatives in the UAE. The fair’s non-commercial programme includes the Global Art Forum, a variety of talks and exhibitions, art activities for children and commissioned performances that include a carnival-like parade by the local Filipino community.

Luiz Roque, Rio de Janeiro, 2017 Image Credit: Mendes Wood DM and the artist

“We have made changes to the layout, general look and feel of the fair and added new content to give visitors an interconnected experience where everything flows logically from the gallery halls to the talks and performances. We will show the contemporary and modern art side by side to connect past narratives with the present, and the new Bawwaba section will explore the concept of the Global South, highlighting Dubai’s unique position as a gateway for energies and geographies not usually seen together in the Western art world. The new UAE Now and Residents section will present young voices from the UAE and Latin America painting a picture of the future art world. The themes of inter-connection and community building are also reflected in our curatorial teams from different countries and in the performance programme, especially the community parade and the installation on Fort island,” Pablo de Val, artistic director of Art Dubai, says.

Highlights of Art Dubai 2019:

Laila Shawa, Windows, 1969 Image Credit: Courtesy of Gallery One

Gallery sections at Madinat Arena:

This year Art Dubai Contemporary selling contemporary art from across the world and Art Dubai Modern, presenting museum-quality works by 20th century masters from the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa have been placed next to each other to contextualise the historical narrative played out across the booths.

Bawwaba, (from the Arabic word for ‘gateway’) is a new section that explores the notion of the Global South, a general reference to countries in the southern hemisphere — a region that is usually omitted from the Western mainstream dialogue on art. It features 10 solo presentations by artists who are from, based in or focused on the Middle East, Africa, Central and South Asia, and Latin America. This section is curated by French-Cameroonian curator Élise Atangana and accompanied by a dedicated programme of talks.

Galleries and Exhibitions at Mina Salam:

Ernesto Shikhani
Image Credit: Art Dubai

The Residents section highlights art from Latin America with works by 12 artists from Brazil, Uruguay, Cuba, Argentina and Columbia, who were invited to do residencies at art organisations in the UAE. They will present works for sale that have been influenced by their new environment and experiences in the UAE.

UAE NOW: this new non-commercial section shines a light on the independent artist-run collectives, community groups and online platforms in the UAE and the contribution of such underground grassroots platforms in the evolution of the country’s contemporary art ecosystem. Curator Munira Al Sayegh has invited Bait 15, Banat Collective, Jaffat el Aqlam, PAC (Public Art Collective) and Dafter Asfar to present young creative voices from various fields.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Contemporary Art in the City:

This is an exhibition by participants of Campus Art Dubai 7.0, an intensive six-month seminar and residency programme.

Public programme at Mina Salam:

Global Art Forum 2019 on March 20 and 21:

Mazenett Quiroga, Selva Intervenida II, 2018 Image Credit: Instituto de Visión

The theme for this year is School is a Factory? and it will bring together well-known professionals from various fields to discuss the challenges and opportunities in education today. Topics to be addressed include what should be the priorities of education in the coming decade, how should humans be taught in an age of accelerated mechanisation, and whether humans will be required to teach people in the future. The Forum is free and open to all, including non-ticket holders.

Modern Symposium - Cultural Hubs of Modernism:

The one-day symposium will map the cultural shifts and trends instigated by modernity during the 20th century in four key cities — Baghdad, Beirut, Dakar and Lahore through ‘masterclasses’ by Dr Nada Shabout, Dr Iftikhar Dadi, Elvira Dyangani Ose and Catherine David.

Commissioned Performances and installation:

Community Parade: The performance programme developed by Kunsthalle Lissabon celebrates togetherness and the unifying aspects of community celebrations. It features a performance by Marlon Griffith from Trinidad and Tobago inspired by West African puppet shows and a large-scale performance based on Trinidadian carnivals where the artist has collaborated with the Filipino community in Dubai to stage a procession of 150 performers with music composed by a local musician. The procession will take place around Fort island on the opening night and on March 23, and visitors are welcome to join in.

Muted Lion Dance: This is a reimagining of the traditional Chinese lion dance by Hong Kong based Samson Young, with the dancers performing to a soundtrack of unusual sounds.

Solaraca: created by Brazilian artists’ collective OPAVIVARA! this is a gigantic installation of a community space on Fort Island designed to encourage interaction between people.

Other activities:

The Sheikha Manal little Artists Programme:

The theme of this year’s programme is ‘Creating New Worlds’ and it is led by American artist Sally Curcio. It includes workshops for children and teenagers to create cityscapes and imaginary utopias using found and recycled materials; tours of the fair; and on campus workshops at selected schools.

After-Dark Music Programme:

Curated by NTS Radio, the programme focuses on The Global South with two music sessions by DJ Alexander Nut with Zakia and Nabihah Iqgal with Zezi playing music from the Middle East, Africa, South and Central Africa and South America.

Activations by Art Dubai partners:

HIPA exhibition: ‘Tolerance, has History’:

This exhibition presents a visual narrative of the tolerant and cooperative nature of the region’s social fabric in the 1960s and 1970s and the values on which the UAE was built. The rare photographs are part of the private collection of His Highness Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council and Patron of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA).

Ithra Art Prize 2019:

Exhibition of this year’s winner Daniah Alsaleh’s winning commission, Sawtam, that explores the structure and complexities of language through an audiovisual artwork comprising 28 screens.

A Journey Drawn through an Archaeology of the Present, at the Julius Baer Lounge:

This is a commissioned exhibition of drawings by emerging French-Moroccan artist Chourouk Hriech charting the bank’s journey from its origins in Switzerland in 1890 to its strong presence in Dubai and this region.

The Art of Gold, by Piaget:

This exhibition showcases the Maison’s craftsmanship through a selection of gold haute jewellery and watches, the Dali D’Or coin designed by Salvador Dali, and works by artists Pierre Bonnefille and Julien Breton.

BMW Art Car:

BMW art Car
Image Credit: Art Dubai

BMW Group Middle East will exhibit a car painted by Australian artist Ken Done for its Art Car project, launched in 1975 along with miniature versions of all the art cars painted by iconic artists such as Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Other activations around Dubai:

The fair will be complemented by a variety of art-related activations around Dubai and the UAE under the umbrella of Art Week and Dubai Art Season, including Sikka Art Fair in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood and a variety of new exhibitions, talks and installations in Alserkal Avenue.

Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai.

For more information, go to and #ArtDubai2019.