Regional unrest inspires Dubai art fair

Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:19pm EDT
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By Catherine Ngai

DUBAI (Reuters Life!) - Stirring canvasses inspired by the unrest sweeping the Arab world feature in a four-day contemporary art show, Art Dubai, running this week through Saturday.

Most of the artists from Artspace Gallery in the Dubai International Financial Center were in Egypt during the uprising that brought down veteran ruler Hosni Mubarak and many had been unsure if their pieces would be completed in time.

Their work is a testament to freedom of expression and the spirit of revolution, said the gallery's Sossy Dikijian.

"In the Middle East, there's a lot of censorship in art. There's not a sense of freedom, and we felt we needed to put a statement out there," he said. "We had to do something that really reflected 'now.'"

This, the fifth annual fair, is the most geographically diverse yet. The number of galleries represented is up to 82 from 72 last year, while the number of countries represented increased to 34 from 31.

"Dubai has been developing as an international center for 10 years," Antonia Carver, fair director of Art Dubai, told Reuters. "But in the last 10 years, in terms of Middle Eastern art, you have seen a very steep growth and interest from international museums and collectors and curators."

This year the fair is exhibiting in cities across the UAE.

Around one-third of the participants are based in the region, one-third is in Europe and the rest in the United States and Asia.   Continued...