Abu Dhabi has opened its Manarat
al-Saadiyat doors once again to its annual international
art fair. Not too many things changed from last year,
but things have developed in terms of #global awareness.
Three notable pieces from what I could call historical
artists of the contemporary art world introduced visitors
to the fair. Interesting to note, none of them were from
Europe nor the USA which are usually the centers of art
making today. The first installation was by Iranian Fahrad Moshiri.
The second, from Chinese superstar painter Yue Minjun,
and the third - from the Emirati father of conceptual art - Hassan
Sharif. These three pieces set the tone for the "global" fair's
content: a mixed media, mixed culture new kind of art
that embraces local non-Western heritages.
Abu Dhabi, as a city, indeed embraces cosmopolitanism
as part of their national identity. Abu Dhabi is a
crossroad city as we heard Neil Macgreggor, the president
of the British Museum repeat during his star-studded
panel talk 'Museum and the Stories They Tell'. This is
true indeed, coming from a student who has been living
in Abu Dhabi for three years. This city has the ambition
to become global in the 21st century sense of the world in
the way it balances and equates Western and non-Western
perspectives on business, education, and cultural activities.
The talk, I must say, was more of a PR roadshow for the
British Museum, the Guggenheim and the Louvre than an
intellectual debate on what it means to have these three
superpowers of Western culture implanting themselves
in the city of Abu Dhabi.
The emerging nature of Abu Dhabi as an art city has
an effect on the pieces offered at the fair. Only a
select handful of local art collectors seem to be
dedicated to buying art. It's the kind of fair where
galleries do not need much persuasive power to sell.
They know beforehand who's buying what; the buyer
knows what he wants already.
Let's get into the art. Acting as a collector, if I
had a $1 million to spare, the slideshow above shows what I would buy.
i>Sophie Arni, November 2015, Abu Dhabi.
All images are taken by Sophie Arni at the art fair. Copyright Global Art Daily, 2016.