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A fanfare for Art Dubai as the pioneers of the Gulf city return to normal

A fanfare for Art Dubai as the pioneers of the Gulf city return to normal

10 minutes after Art Dubai opened, Meem Gallery sold three etchings by the famous Syrian painter Marwan – a sign of demand and excitement surrounding one of the first international art fairs of the Covid era.

This week, after a hiatus in the art world and months after online events, a Covid-sponsored Art Dubai has visited visitors to three shops in the tourist areas of the United Arab Emirates.

“This is awesome for the art scene. Art Dubai is at the heart of the cultural sector in the Basque Country – we all needed that, “said Charlie Pocock of the Meem Gallery.” They got it from the impossible. “

The fair, now in its 15th year, has been instrumental in consolidating Dubai as a commercial hub for contemporary art, but was canceled last year due to coronavirus.

This week’s event, which ends on Saturday, is the city’s latest attempt to regain its position as a commercial and tourist hub as it moves forward with a successful vaccination campaign. Since the May lockdown last May, the winter sun in Dubai, one of the most open cities in the world, has temporarily attracted residents, from bankers to tech branches, trying to escape closures elsewhere.

The emirate became a high-market tourist destination in the new year, causing a huge increase in cases and hospitalizations. This second wave is receding, but with more new cases than the UK and the US in each case, it was an art fair per person bet.

All exhibitors and staff had to undergo a PCR test before the fair opened. Security reduced capacity, with 18,000 visits expected in 2019 compared to 28,000. There were 50 booths, compared to the usual 85, and as an incentive, the galleries only paid rent for the stand when they got the sale. By Friday, the fair was on its way to receive full cabin fees.

“It wasn’t without risk, but we were always confident that the fair would be a success,” said Ben Floyd, the event’s founder. “This payment system is unique due to the pandemic, but I hope that in the future one element of it will continue.”

Hipster goggles, which were artificially sculpted women-lunchers and bankers in tie-free outfits, went on to open on Monday. There was universal excitement in the return of the person’s personal purchase. “We are resisting the crown,” said Ali Jaber, a Dubai journalist and local judge. Arabs Got Talent, TV show.

There were overseas collectors from Russia, India and Spain – although British visitors did not stand out. Since February, citizens of the United Kingdom and people returning from the Basque Country have had to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine 1,750 pounds.

Lorenzo Ronchini of London has said he will avoid quarantining the hotel by staying in his hometown before returning to the Mayfair gallery. “For me, being at the fair is very important to get new customers, I would do a hotel quarantine if I needed to,” he said.

Ángeles Agrela Yusto-Giner gallery © Courtesy of Art Dubai

The emirate remains a magnet for artists and collectors from Asia to Africa. “It’s important for the gallery to look east across the Indian Ocean, rather than to Europe or America,” said Danda Jaroljm, founder of the Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi. Sales at his gallery have quadrupled thanks to collectors who have had free time through blockchain since September, he said.

Parisian gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin spent part of his winter vacation in Dubai. Participating in 24 fairs in 2019 and having only four last year, Art Dubai is the first outing of 2021. “We enjoyed life here, and since we are closed in Paris, I am very happy to be at the fair,” he said. Takashi Murakami’s flower paintings are on sale for about $ 500,000.

Perrotin has seen first-hand how interest in art has increased in 2009 when Art Dubai moved into a joint venture between private owners and the Dubai International Financial Center. The city now has creative districts, such as Alserkal Avenue and the Jameel Contemporary Museum. Art Center. “Dubai has changed,” Perrotin said. “We’ve met a lot of people here with great interest – contemporary art has greater recognition now.”

The fair attracted a new collector, digital natives who tend to proselytize the latest phenomenon: NFTs (non-fungible tokens), digital art works certified by blockchain technology.

The Meem Gallery at Art Dubai © Courtesy of Art Dubai

As collectors wandered the halls of Art Dubai, NFT fans joined an early crypto-art cruise, where they showed new works by NFT artist Amrita Sethi, a NFT artist who became a banker in the Basque Country, Debby Gommer’s annual Playmate and Sophia.

Numerous “digital nomads” are in Dubai, according to crypto-veteran sponsor Joel Dietz, who plans to make the city his main residence. The striking sales prices that digital practices have raised, driven by the high values ​​of cryptocurrencies, have convinced established artists to jump on the bandwagon, including Damien Hirst. The digital work of the Beeple artist was sold at auction last month for $ 69.3 million.

Returning to Art Dubai, exhibitors say the fair is a testament to the city’s diversity. “This show depicts the Philippines in a different way, confronting the stereotype of a large exporter of foreign labor to the Gulf,” Chris Fussner told Cebuan-based Tropical Futures Institute. “It’s nice to be represented in contemporary culture.”

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