4 December 2011


view of Abu Dhabi from Saadiyat IslandAbu Dhabi Art, 2011 Ground floor Keith Haring $4.5mln work at Galerie Enrico Navarra UAE Pavillion by Sir Norman Foster 
from above: view to Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi Art, Keith Haring $4.5mln work at Galerie Enrico Navarra, UAE Pavillion by Sir Norman Foster 

This year’s edition of the Abu Dhabi Art has taken the event to a whole new level. The fair moved to the new premises – UAE Pavilion designed by Sir Norman Foster in Saadiyat Island. The island is the future home for planned projects such as Le Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. While both museums are still under construction, the art fair should generate excitement and establish strong link with contemporary art in the area.

Abu Dhabi Art positions itself as a boutique-sized platform for the contemporary art: fewer galleries and a reasonable size of exhibition space. It is possible to see the entire fair in an hour. Boutique also means the most prominent international art galleries that bring selections of the most popular works by their best artists. This new context had a positive effect on the fair’s programme of talks and exhibitions. This year, the visitors had a chance to encounter iconic art dealers, such as Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner. There was also a wide range of contemporary artists, from the young Algerian star Adel Abdessemed to the market leaders, such as Jeff Koons. The discussion about the position of the Middle Eastern art scene within the global art world that included Peter Sloterdijk and Salah Hassan was another pleasant surprise of this year’s public programme.

The main section of the art fair had a cosy feel to it, with only 44 participating galleries from all over the world. It included heavy weight players such as: Aquavella Galleries Inc (NY), White Cube (London), Lisson Gallery (London), Hauser & Wirth and Pace Gallery (NY). Nevertheless, it was rather private affairs that lacked the usual frenzy. On the contrary, the visitors had space and time to look at the works and talk to the dealers. In fact, there was a lot to look at: Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (Paris) brought a chamber-sized solo show by Antony Gormley and Volte Gallery (Mumbai) showed a project by Ranbir Kaleka, that combined painting and video to create existential narrative. 

Abu Dhabi Art 2011, 16 November – 19 November
for more information about the fair and the video podcasts of the talks and discussions please visit the Abu Dhabi Art official website: www.abudhabiartfair.ae

The author, art theorist Daria Kirsanova, is traveling around the world, always hunting the next airplane and the next great exhibition. She has worked for several art-institutions, such as Serpentine Gallery and Victoria Miro Gallery in London.

Xerxes Art, London booth B15  Abu Dhabi Art, 2011a 
 Xerxes Art, London booth, Abu Dhabi Art