Four hands work by A2Z Art Gallery Image Credit: Supplied

The inaugural edition of ArtBahrain, the first art fair in the kingdom, will be held in a purpose-built grand marquee near Bahrain bay, from October 12 to October 16. The event, held under the patronage of Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of the King of Bahrain and President of the Supreme Council for Women and a patron of the arts, has been organised by Bahrain based art consultancy Art Select and Pico Bahrain.

Kaneka Subberwal, founder of Art Select, and co-founder and director of the fair says, “Bahrain has a refined level of appreciation and talent for art, which makes it a great location for an international art fair. ArtBahrain is a celebration of a history and culture rooted in artistic expression.

“Our vision is to ‘create, connect and inspire’ — to create awareness about the quality of art available in Bahrain; to connect the international art world with the art scene here; and to inspire local artists and galleries through exposure to international art professionals and art markets.

“The event is designed to showcase the very best Bahrain has to offer, and to bring to the country the very best from all around the world to collaboratively stimulate creativity, opportunity and the local arts industry. Drawing artists of all styles from around the world, it will provide a platform to showcase international skill and talent and also underscore current trends. Diverse in form it will cover everything from classic acrylic to sculpture, and digital photography to new age installation.”

Khalid Juman, CEO of Pico Bahrain and co-founder of the fair, adds, “We are delighted to have the participation of renowned galleries and artists, and we expect up to 200 art collectors, 2,000 VIP clients and around 10,000 visitors at the event. We are confident about establishing ArtBahrain as a premier art event regionally and internationally.”

The marquee, designed especially for the event, is over 50 metres in diameter. The Bahrain arts pavilion, showcasing Bahraini art and heritage, will be located at the centre of the marquee, surrounded by booths featuring 48 galleries from around the globe. There will be dedicated spaces for art related workshops and interactive activities, events such as talks and seminars by well-known art professionals and an art café and lounge, featuring art related services and merchandise such as designed scarves, upcoming art consultancy services and Bahrain’s first art foundry.

“Durrah” magazine, a leading luxury lifestyle publication from the region, will present an exclusive pavilion showcasing elegant, trendy home living pieces created by well-known international designers.

A unique feature of the fair is a section dedicated to artists, where well-known Bahraini and international artists will showcase their work in booths designed by them. This “artists’ arena” aims to bridge the distance between artists and art buyers by giving collectors and all art lovers the rare opportunity to interact directly with well-known artists and understand their work better. Artists featured at the event include leading names such as Tunisian artists Nja Mahdaoui and Khaled Ben Slimane, Emirati painter, sculptor and photographer Mattar Bin Lahej, Indian artist Jaideep Mehrotra, Omani artist Alia Farsi and Bahraini master, Jamal Abdul Rahim, who is a pioneer of contemporary art in Bahrain.

A highlight of the event is the opening of artist Sacha Jafri’s 18-year Retrospective World Tour. Jafri’s retrospective collection comprises 48 artworks, which include four paintings from each of the 12 bodies of work created by the artist between 1996 and 2014. He has handpicked a selection of 18 works from this collection for an exhibition at ArtBahrain, which is the first time these works will be shown together.

The education programme at ArtBahrain, organised by well-known gallerist and art consultant, Janet Rady, includes daily talks and panel discussions featuring industry experts; presentations by noted MENASA artists; and workshops for art collectors on collecting art, preservation and sharing of private collections and art patronage.

The topics for the talks include, “Collecting and exhibiting art”, presented from the perspectives of international museum curators, non-profit institutions, the commercial art world and individual collectors; and issues related to being an artist or curator in the global art world, and the “power of art” in terms of its role in building bridges between people and cultures and peace building.

Participants include artists Nja Mahdaoui, Satish Gupta, Bassam Kyrillos, Paul-Gordon Chandler, president of CARAVAN and representatives from Christie’s Dubai.

The topics to be discussed at the workshops for VIP collectors include “loaning works to museums”; “restoration of works”, “issues related to digitisation”, “legal issues surrounding a collection” and “forming a corporate collection”.

Renaud Siegmann, head of VIP relations, ArtBahrain says, “Global culture and the many expressions of the arts have always been closely followed and strengthened by the historical relationship between artists and collectors throughout the world.

ArtBahrain aspires to bring world-class artists and VIP’s to the Kingdom to provide a collaborative platform that will play a pivotal role in the success of its first edition. The event endeavours to carve its own character as an international art fair hosting diverse talents from across the world while promoting home-based artists and offering them both an exceptional audience to shine.

Thereafter investing in art will allow collectors to promote creativity in Bahrain, but also to raise awareness of the deeper significance in its heritage and origins. With its VIP Programme, ArtBahrain aims to become a celebration of all things beautiful and exciting as a unique vehicle to the market place and cultural tourism on the island, as it will stimulate local trade by matching art events and cultural visits all around the island.

Chic, contemporary and artistic, this one-of-a-kind programme is geared towards collectors and first time buyers, advisers and curators, experts and other taste-makers with a special focus on the GCC and the Kingdom of Bahrain in terms of what art and life style means to them.”

Jyoti Kalsi is an arts enthusiast based in Dubai.

ArtBahrain will open to the public from October 13 to October 16, 11am to 7pm.