Louvre Abu Dhabi 02
Inside Louvre Abu Dhabi. The museum has hosted more than 1,000 school trips, 5,000 guided tours, workshops and masterclasses, and programmed 115 special events. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Artworks by seven artists are on display for the inaugural edition of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s new annual contemporary art exhibition. The winner of The Richard Mille Art Prize will be announced at a ceremony in January 2022. The winner will be awarded $50,000 (Dh183,900).

Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2021 opened on Thursday, with artists Cristiana de Marchi, Latifa Saeed, Mays Albaik, Mohammed Kazem, Nasser Alzayani, Tarek Al-Ghoussein and Taus Makhacheva vying for the Richard Mille Art Prize.

The artists were selected by the prize’s jury, following an open call for proposals from UAE-based artists. Participants were asked to respond to this year’s theme of ‘Memory, Time and Territory’, addressing questions of memory and belonging and exploring the geography of identity through the artists’ personal relationships with territories.

Hand-embroidered canvas

Each of the seven artists responded to the theme with their own unique interpretation, bringing each of their visions to life through different mediums. Cristiana de Marchi will present hand-embroidered canvas with her artwork Mapping Gaps: Beirut, whilst Latifa Saeed uses glass for her artwork ‘The Pathway’. Mays Albaik’s ‘Awaiting Weightlessness’ is an installation of aluminium video sculptures, and Mohammed Kazem will display his photographic series, ‘Photographs with Flags’. Nasser Alzayani uses sand artefacts, collected recordings and works on paper in his installation ‘Watering the distant, deserting the near’. Tarek Al-Ghoussein will present prints from his ongoing ‘Odysseus’ series, and Taus Makhacheva has employed a mix of video and body-oriented objects for her work ‘Mining Serendipity’.

‘Memory, Time and Territory’

“We are proud to offer greater visibility to these incredibly talented UAE-based artists for this inaugural edition of the exhibition and prize. Living in the UAE, they were uniquely placed to respond to this year’s theme of ‘Memory, Time and Territory’, especially in a year where the nation reflects on 50 years of progress and development,” said Manuel Rabate, Louvre Abu Dhabi director.

“Richard Mille’s timepieces have always sat at the intersection of watchmaking tradition, art, design and architecture. The Richard Mille Art Prize [therefore] celebrates the thriving art culture here in the UAE, and in the region as a whole; establishing a platform dedicated to creativity, dialogue and diversity. The Prize will lay down the foundations for what is certain to be a very exciting chapter in the development of the region’s rich and nuanced art scene,” said Peter Harrison, Richard Mille Middle East’s chief executive officer.

Extension of the universal storytelling

“The artists have really shown a deep understanding of the theme and have responded with incisive, nuanced works. This exhibition and art prize are a significant addition to the contemporary art ecosystem of the UAE, and this focus on contemporary artists is an important extension of the universal storytelling our exhibitions and collection convey. We look forward to announcing this year’s winner and next year’s theme,” Dr Souraya Noujaim, Louvre Abu Dhabi’s scientific, curatorial and collections management director, said on behalf of the jury panel.

The jury includes three other distinguished members in addition to Dr Noujaim. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, chairman of UAE Unlimited and an art collector and patron of the Centre Pompidou, the British Museum and Sharjah Art Foundation, is on the panel as well as Christine Macel, art critic and chief curator at the Musee national d’art modern, and Centre Pompidou. The panel also includes Hala Warde, founding architect of HW Architecture and long-term partner of Jean Nouvel, who was the lead of the Louvre Abu Dhabi project.

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Array of opportunities

The Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2021 exhibition falls within the UAE’s cultural season that includes Abu Dhabi Art, new exhibitions at the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, Dubai Design Week, Art Dubai, as well as this year’s Expo 2020 Dubai, adding an array of opportunities to discover the local art scene and highlighting the UAE’s dedication to fostering creativity.