Now in its fourth year, Abu Dhabi Art has been growing in stature, impelling more of the world’s most eminent gallery owners and art dealers to bubble-wrap their most valuable artworks, fly them into the capital and show them off in stalls at Emirates Palace.
The show’s popularity among artists is partly because there are plenty of folk here who have the cash to buy up these pieces, but it’s also a symbol of the city’s blossoming art scene. This time around, exhibitors include 46 galleries from across the world, based in places as far afield as Iran, South Korea and America. They’ll be bringing in pieces by some of the biggest names on the scene for you to view, or, if you’re feeling flush, buy.
Here’s our pick of some of the galleries you should make yourself known to.
Acquavella Galleries: If you know anything at all about the New York art scene, you’ll probably have heard of this renowned gallery. For almost 80 years it has been hosting exhibitions for some of the giants of art history – Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Henry Matisse to name just a handful. They’ll be bringing some illustrious pieces, including works by Paul Cezanne and Andy Warhol, for your viewing pleasure.
Aicon Gallery: Both of Aicon’s gallery spaces – in London and New York – exist as a platform for artists from the Indian subcontinent to show off their talents in the West. The gallery experts’ eyes for spotting talent have helped make Indian and Pakistani artwork some of the most sought-after collectables in the world.
Ayyam Gallery: This gallery – which has branches in Damascus and Beirut – will be making its fourth appearance at the Abu Dhabi Art Show, bringing in a rousing collection of some of the Middle East’s best known artists. These include Samia Halaby, Nadim Karam and Thaier Helal, all of whom will demonstrate the current strength of the Arabian art movement.
David Zwirner Gallery: Keep an eye out for the work of Donald Judd at this New York gallery’s booth. This artist’s minimalist sculptures and installations go for big bucks nowadays, and an early floor piece by him, which will be on show here, is bound to garner much attention. The fluorescent light pieces by Dan Flavin and the metal sculptures of John McCracken are also visually stunning works that deserve more than a momentary glance.
Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art: The Manhattan-based gallery plays host to some of the biggest names in American modern art. They’ll be bringing a recently unearthed piece by abstract impressionist Sam Francis to Abu Dhabi, as well as works by José María Sicilia and Andy Warhol.
Gagosian Gallery: If you haven’t heard the name Larry Gagosian yet, what you don’t know about Abu Dhabi’s art scene could fill a warehouse. The New York dealer is one of the most influential people in the art world, and his ongoing show at the Manarat Al Saadiyat art space – which features the likes of Andy Warhol, Robert Rauchenberg and Cy Twombly – has been luring in visitors thick and fast. Expect more great work at what’s sure to be a very busy stand.
Galerie Brigitte Schenk: The eponymous owner is a familiar face on Abu Dhabi’s art scene, having organised exhibitions in the capital for a number of years. Her gallery in Cologne, Germany has a well-established reputation for stocking up on some fine European and Middle Eastern wares, and Brigitte herself will be there to explain pieces by esteemed Iranian artist Shahram Karini, and Russian sculpting couple Ilya and Emilia Kabakov.
Galerie Theaddaeus Ropac: Founded in Salzburg, Austria in 1983, the gallery has expanded into two further exhibition spaces in Paris by championing a crop of contemporary European and American artists, such as Joseph Beuys, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Among the stock of modern artists’ works they’ll be packing up for Abu Dhabi, one name that stands out is sculptor Antony Gormley, the man behind the colossal Angel of the North landmark in north-east England.
Gallery Hyundai: South East Asia takes its spot at Abu Dhabi Art thanks to this Seoul-based modern art gallery. Their stand will be the place to get first dibs on work by up and coming South Korean artists before the rest of the world catches on.
Haunch of Venison: Nothing whatsoever to do with deer flesh, this is in fact a world-famous international gallery with spaces in New York, Berlin, London and Zurich. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing the works of American pop artist Tom Wesselmen and British naturalist sculptor Richard Long.
Kerlin Gallery: One of Dublin’s premier exhibition spaces, Kerlin specialises in making sure Ireland’s buzzing contemporary art scene is given the publicity it truly deserves. Among the pieces the gallery will be bringing to Abu Dhabi is work by abstract painter Sean Scully, who has twice been nominated for the prestigious British modern art honour, the Turner Prize.
Salwa Zeidan Gallery: The host city deserves some representation at its own art fair, and that comes in the way of this villa-based exhibition space. The gallery is renowned for showcasing the work of the region’s hottest creative talent, and the gallery’s owner also has a keen eye for international works, having delivered an excellent exhibition of Romanian art earlier this year.
Silk Road Gallery: Despite the its reputation for curbing creative freedom, Iran has a surprisingly buoyant art scene, with many new exhibition spaces opening up in recent years. Silk Road is one of these and, since its foundation in 2001, the Tehran gallery has proudly showcased the new wave of Iranian talent. At Abu Dhabi Art Fair it will be showcasing some stunning works by young Iranian artists and photographers.
Waterhouse & Dodd: One of London’s premier galleries and art dealerships, specialising in impressionist, post-impressionist and other late nineteenth and twentieth century masterpieces, as well as a few modern creations. Pop along to their stand, where they’ll be exchanging hard currency for works by the likes of Jean Francois Rauzier and Patrick Hughes.
White Cube: Until you’ve had your artwork viewed by chin-scratchers in this central London-based, cube-shaped gallery, there’s no way you can consider yourself hot property on the British art scene. Luminaries such as Damien Hurst, Tracey Emin and Jake and Dinos Chapman have all exhibited here, so expect works by artists of a similar calibre to accompany the White Cube team on their sojourn into the capital.
The Third Line: Beyond all the superficial glitz, Dubai’s been quietly developing one of the liveliest art scenes in the Middle East. The Third Line Gallery can probably claim bragging rights as one of the city’s most innovative galleries, providing a space where the Middle East’s greatest modern artists regularly exhibit. Keep an eye out for works by Amir H Fallah, Huda Lutfi and Laleh Khorramian, three of the region’s most collectable artists.
Xerxes Art: Art from the Arab World is all the rage in Europe at the moment and London’s Xerxes Gallery is at the forefront of this increasingly popular market. Their stand will be selling the creations of artists such as calligrapher Ali Adjalli, sculptor Simeen Farhat and collagist Afsoon, all of which are visually stunning and of huge interest to anyone with a taste for Middle Eastern culture.