DUBAI- The 2019 edition of Art Dubai took place at Madinat Al Jumeirah between the 20-23 of March. This year, artmejo joined forces with gallerygirlldn’s Lizzy Vartanian Collier who took us on a virtual tour around the fair on instagram, and compiled a list of her top ten picks from the fair. Here are her highlights:

Jana Ghaylani and Sarah Alagroobi at Banat Collective (UAE):

Drapery work by Jana Ghaylani and still from film by Sarah Alagroobi

Part of UAE NOW – a section of the fair that put a spotlight on grassroots initiatives based in the UAE. Banat Collective’s Sara bin Safwan filled her booth with a fabric work by Jana Ghaylani and short film from Sarah Alagroobi. Jana’s work Untitled (Traces of Resilience) invited viewers to draw on fabric, creating a sense of community and unity, whereas Sarah’s Ivory Stitches and Saviours is a reflection of her experience working as an Arab artist in a Western environment. 

Ali Chaaban and Ibrahim El Dessouki at Hafez Gallery (Saudi Arabia):

Sculpture by Ali Chabaan in front of Ali Dessouki triptych

From Beirut to Dubai, Hafez Gallery has consistently impressed me at every art fair we both have attended. Positioned in front of Ibrahim El Dessouki’s stunning triptych The Seventh Day – a huge painting made up of seven beautiful women dressed in white – Ali Chaaban’s carpet 12pm Class captured everyone’s attention in its carpeted paper airplane form. 

Tadesse Mesfin at Addis Fine Art (Ethiopia):

Tadesse Mesfin on view at Addis Fine Art

Having followed Addis Fine Art online for a while, I was extremely excited to see the work of Ethiopian artist Tadesse Mesfin in person. This work – Pillars of Life – pays homage to the women who hold up Ethiopian society. His paintings are influenced by ancient Egyptian sculptures and mythological drawings, infused with local colours, hinting at eastern Ethiopian cities

Hamra Abbas at Canvas Gallery (Pakistan):

Artist Hamra Abbas with her work at Canvas Gallery

This stunning marble work  at Canvas Gallery was made by Lahore-based artist Hamra Abbas. Having lived in the US, she moved back to Pakistan especially so she could work with the material. “Gardens in which Rivers Flow” was inspired by 17th century frescoes from Lahore, together with the influence of Sol LeWitt. Viewers had to stop themselves from reaching out at touching her works!

Augustine Paredes at Campus Art Dubai (UAE):

Close-up of Self Portrait by artist Augustine Paredes at Campus Art Dubai

Augustine‘s images were made in response to the loaded question of ‘Where Are You From?’ specifically in the context of being from the Philippines and living in the UAE. His series of photographs titled Cooking Adobo in the Hea(r)t of Dubai, preserves the sense of home, cooking for one and surviving every day. He told me that this particular image was a reflection on the bathroom being the only area of complete privacy when living in shared spaces. 

Aya Haidar at Athr (Saudi Arabia):

As the daughter of a Beiruti, Aya Haidar’s neon light piece at Athr found a special place in my heart. The work first flashes to say “I love you as much as”, then a second time to add “as the power cuts daily”, a tongue in cheek comment on the power outages in Lebanon. 

Said Atabekov at Aspan (Kazakhstan):

Said Atabekov’s textile work as exhibited at Aspan Gallery

This textile work presented by Kazakh gallery Aspan references the history of Ghengis Khan. Ghengis Khan’s Clothing in Otrya brings the historic figure into the 21st century, enlarging the garment to match his larger-than-life mark on history. Displaying it lied on the floor, shows how Ghengis Khan’s legacy still lingers.

Hamza Bounoua at Wadi Finan (Jordan):

Hamza Bounoua represented by Wadi Finan Art Gallery

Represented by the Jordanian Wadi Finan Art Gallery, Bounoua‘s series of photographs Situations: Project 01, show a figure interacting with and hiding behind Arabic calligraphy. The performance-based photographs almost look like a dance, with the letters being put centre stage in front of the male figure. 

Dia Azzawi at Meem (UAE):

Meem presented a set of ten etchings by Dia Azzawi. Produced in 2018, they are based off of drawings originally produced by Azzawi to accompany writings by Palestinian writer and activist Ghassan Kanafani.  

Ramazan Can at Anna Laudel (Turkey):

Combining carpet with neon lights, Ramazan Can’s work mixes history with the future. Exhibited at Anna Laudel, the work was trapped behind a heavy glass frame, the rug in question has been contained in a space where it feels foreign. 

Read more from Lizzy Vartanian Collier.

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier
Lizzy Vartanian Collier

Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a writer and curator based in London, specialising in contemporary art from the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been published by Canvas, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Hyperallergic, After Nyne, the Guardian, Ibraaz, Jdeed, EVN Report, Tribe and Suitcase, along with many other publications. Her recent exhibition ‘Perpetual Movement’, which took place during Arab Women Artists Now (AWAN) Festival 2018, was featured in Vogue Arabia and the Art Newspaper, and later traveled to the debut Armenia Art Fair. Lizzy is also the founder of the Gallery Girl. You can follow her work on www.gallerygirl.co and on Instagram @gallerygirlldn, as well as on Twitter @lizzycollier

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