Galleries and programme confirmed for ninth Abu Dhabi Art fair

New curated section organised by Omar Kholeif aims to bring new works to Middle Eastern audiences


The new director of the Abu Dhabi Art fair, Dyala Nusseibeh, is making changes to the Middle Eastern event, including a new curated section organised by the high-profile museum curator Omar Kholeif. The ninth edition of the Modern and contemporary art fair,  which launches later this year at Manarat al Saadiyat (8-11 November), is due to include 48 galleries, up from 35 last year. These include regional dealers such as Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Modern Art Gallery and Lawrie Shabibi of Dubai. Notable international names include Sprüth Magers, which run spaces in Berlin, London and Los Angeles, and Sean Kelly Gallery of New York. 

Kholeif, the Manilow senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, will oversee Beyond Territory. “The focus is artists who work with landscape in the broad sense: the formal, social and political landscape,” he tells The Art Newspaper. “I wanted to not limit this to artists from the region but to create an inter-generational and global map to show that there were connections across geographies, subjects, sites and forms.

“We will most definitely be introducing lots of new artists to Abu Dhabi for the first time: Sprüth Magers, who have never before exhibited at any fair in the Middle East, will be doing a beautiful solo booth of Otto Piene, the German Zero artist; Jhaveri Contemporary will be bringing a prized and unique installation by Nalini Malani and Iftikhar Dadi (Bloodlines, 1997); Isabelle Van den Eynde will be showing early works by Hassan Sharif, the incredible UAE artist, which have not been seen before,” Kholeif adds.

Another new section, Solo Projects, follows other fairs, bringing curated presentations of solo artists. The artists Manal Aldowayan, Magdi Mostafa and Nasser Alsalem will create new public works located in Manarat al Saadiyat and other sites as part of the Beyond programme.

Meanwhile, a series of images by the Kuwaiti photographer Tarek Al-Ghoussein, which document the development of the Saadiyat Island cultural quarter in Abu Dhabi over the past seven years, has been used by the fair for its advertising and branding campaigns this year. Seven of Al-Ghoussein’s works will be used across print and digital platforms; the photographs will also be displayed at the fair.

Nusseibeh was appointed last November; she was previously director of the defunct Art International fair in Istanbul. Her father, Zaki, was an adviser to Sheikh Zayed, the founding president of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi Art is run by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, a government body. Meanwhile, the exact date of the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, a major draw for collectors and galleries, has yet to be fixed.