Abu Dhabi Art Fair

What a dilemma I had this weekend! On Saturday I had the choice of either going to Abu Dhabi for the last day of the art fair OR attending Al Quoz for QuozHappens. They were both happening on the same day! (Curses!!)

‘Twas a tough decision which I mulled over for quite some time. In the end I decided to see the Abu Dhabi Art Fair simply because I had never seen it before and quite frankly, I was extremely curious!

So after a loooong and perplexing drive I finally made it to Saadiyat Island. Luckily, I had just missed the brief spell of rain and as a result the weather was so pleasant with a cool, post-drizzle breeze. As soon as I entered I whipped out my phone and got rather snap happy and I just had to take a photo of this very interesting looking chair installation.

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This installation was at the near the reception just as you enter.

Now, there was an abundance of incredible artwork at the fair but I’m just skimming through and giving a very brief overview of what really stood out to me, what I personally noticed and my favorite highlights.

Abu Dhabi Art Fair has an impressive and extensive range of curated shows, workshops talks and activities available every day of the fair. To name a few there is the Modern contemporary design galleries, Signature, Beyond, Bidaya and Artist’s Waves. My first instinct was to have a browse around outdoors where there were a number of small pavilions, from solo shows to magazine kiosks. I was intrigued by this exhibition taking place with an assortment of beautiful African inspired cultural line illustrations. I spoke to the curator to get a bit more information about this and the idea was so raise awareness and funds for women in Africa suffering from childbirth complications due to poor medical resources and equipment.

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Ayyam Gallery had some gorgeous new work by Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul. I really am a huge fan of his paintings and his Surrealistic/Pharaonic style. His pieces are both haunting and melancholy. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I think his work reminds me of the legendary Pakistani painter Sadequain.

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I loved this artwork by Firat Neziroglu made from hand woven tapestry on a loom entitled “Mamma’s Girl.”

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A very beautiful painting with a kaleidoscope quality by Mahmoud Obaidi named Morpheus and the Red Poppy.

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This creatively designed pattern by Moataz Nasr was made entirely using different colours of matches.
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“Happy Lucky 4” by Lebanese English Robert Hammond explores contemporary allegories through the mechanics of modern interfaces and the modern visual realm. Elementary shapes, symbols and smiling faces are combined to obtain whimsical harmonies and resonances – isolating our perception to patterns, surfaces, textures and reflection and their relations. This is made from coloured steel and glass 10 cm deep.

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I adored the sense of craftsmanship in this artwork by Korean artist Kim Duck-Yong entitled “Jawoonyoung.” Just look at the iridescent surface texture with that mother-of-pearl like finish. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a stickler for art that is more traditional – be it renaissance, Ancient Egyptian sculptures, japanese silk painting. I found this simply beautiful! I’ve included a close up for you to see the surface.

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Being completely obsessed with the sea, mermaids and sirens, I found I was drawn to this piece by Lebanese artist Nabil Nahas. As well as being inspired by the repetitive geometric designs of Islamic art, his work frequently has a coral-reef like quality to it with his favorite motif being a starfish. Believe it or not, this painting is made entirely from Acrylic paint! I love how pigmented and vibrant his colours are.

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Last but not least is an amazing sculpture by Mondogo called “I’d settle for being able to sleep.” I love love LOVE Mondogo’s work and I have seen some of their epic pieces at Art Sawa in DIFC. I love the innovative manipulation of their materials and their beautiful use of colour and texture and how they use mixed media. They frequently incorporate the barrios of their own native Argentina making their works very atmospheric.

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A famous quote by Mark Twain is to “Write what you know” in order to be a successful writer. It seems that Montogo definitely took Twain’s advice and follows this rule perfectly as they successfully draw from their own personal cultural influences thus making their artwork relatable, informative and create a more engaging dialogue.

Absolutely wonderful fair and I look forward to seeing it next year!

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