Dubai Collection to host close Encounters of the artistic kind - GulfToday

Dubai Collection to host close Encounters of the artistic kind

 Alia Zaal 2

Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim’s Book cover I in acrylic on canvas.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Dubai Collection, Dubai emirate’s first institutional collection of modern and contemporary art, has announced the initial details of Encounters, its new exhibition taking place at Art Dubai 2024 (Mar. 1 - 3). Encounters, curated by Alia Zaal Lootah, begins with previews on February 28 – 29, and the exhibition will present a cross-generational lineup of Emirati artists in a display featuring 26 artworks, drawn from the Collection. Dubai Collection was launched by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), in partnership with Art Dubai Group and patrons who support the initiative through a loan system.

Encounters artists include Hassan Sharif, Mohammed Kazem, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Afra Al Dhaheri, Maitha Abdallah, Hashel Al Lamki and Sarah Almehairi. The title derives its name from the notion that each of the showcased artworks will undergo a slightly different experience as they are placed in a new context in the exhibition. Previously confined to private domains of individual collectors and institutions, be it their residences or workplaces, the artworks will now find themselves in the public sphere, engaging in a dialogue with other pieces in the exhibition.


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The show promises to be replete with unexpected encounters, exemplified, for example, by the juxtaposition of works by Sarah Almehairi and Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim. It creates artistic interplay. The artists span multiple generations, and Encounters provides the opportunity to experience the sensation of collecting and curating a personal collection, encompassing various genres, artistic schools, and artists from different Emirati generations.

Placing the works together not only echoes their presentation in private spaces, but also indicates the exposure of UAE artists to a multitude of mediums and innovative modes of thought. Whether it be the avant-garde approach of Hassan Sharif, characterised by his practice of folding, or the experiments of Shaikha Al Mazrou and Afra Al Dhaheri with traditional and industrial materials, the exhibition attempts to encapsulate these influences. It will not only inspire new thoughts, but also forge new connections among the artworks on display.

Muna Faisal Al Gurg, Chair of the Dubai Collection’s Curatorial Committee and CEO – Culture & Heritage Sector at Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, said: “Dubai Collection was created with the vision of building a collection that represents our communities in Dubai, and provides an opportunity for public engagement. This exhibition celebrates some of the UAE’s most prominent artists, through the lens of the patrons who have loaned their works.” Lootah said: “Encounters is a cross-generational exhibition showcasing the strength and depth of Emirati artists.” She has been active in the UAE’s art and cultural landscape as both an artist and curator. She was honoured with the ‘Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres’ distinction from the French government in 2023 and is currently a curator for Public Art of the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi.

 Alia Zaal 11  Alia Zaal Lootah, Curator, Encounters

Benedetta Ghione, Art Dubai Group’s Executive Director, said: “At Art Dubai, we are incredibly proud to platform and champion the very best artists from this region to a global public, and this exhibition is a real who’s who of the Emirati art scene, from the most established household names to the rising stars.” The Modern and Collector talks at Art Dubai are presented in partnership with Dubai Collection. Highlights of the 2024 programme include sessions exploring the East-East and South-South networks that were critical to the formation of modern art in the region, as well as a series of conversations with the collectors who are playing key roles in emerging cultural epicentres.

Dubai Collection currently comprises 875 artworks on loan from 76 patrons. The Collection’s Steering Committee is chaired by Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and an independent Curatorial Committee. The Collection also has a commissioning programme, and a series of events and temporary exhibitions ensures the public can see it in person on a regular basis. Physical shows run along with the Dubai Collection’s Digital Museum, a repository of information and research about artworks, artists and patrons in the Collection, complemented by essays and critical discourse. The successful Dubai Collection Nights is returning during Ramadan 2024 with a series of curated public events exploring different facets of art collecting across various locations in the city.

Dubai Culture, under the leadership of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is committed to enriching Dubai’s cultural scene, based on the UAE’s heritage. It manages five heritage sites, five museums, Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children, 17 archaeological sites and nine Dubai Public Library branches. The Authority offers eight services and 26 sub-services. Art Dubai is one of the premier platforms to see and buy modern and contemporary art from the Global South. Across Contemporary, Modern, Bawwaba and Digital gallery sections, annual artist commissions and a multidisciplinary thought leadership programme, the fair champions art and artists from across the Global South, providing a viable and increasingly important alternative to mainstream, largely Western-led narratives.

Art Dubai is managed by Art Dubai Group, a commercial public/private partnership established in 2007. The Group now comprises over 30 initiatives. They include Art Dubai; Downtown Design, the region’s leading design fair with a focus on high quality and original design; Dubai Design Week, the region’s largest design festival; Prototypes for Humanity, the world’s largest and most diverse assembly of academics addressing social and environmental challenges; and the Global Art Forum, Art Dubai’s annual trans-disciplinary summit.

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