Abu Dhabi Art: Beyond announces line-up of Commissioned Artists for 2019

Abu Dhabi Art has announced participating artists and curators taking part in its Beyond 2019 programme. Held under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid Bin Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, the Abu Dhabi Art fair took place from 21 – 23 November 2019 at Manarat Al Saadiyat. During the fair, a number of commissioned artworks were officially unveiled and accessible to the public for an additional three months.

With its two commissioning initiatives Beyond: Artist Commissions and Beyond: Emerging Artists, Abu Dhabi Art’s Beyond 2019 programme is focused on bringing art to the public arena and contributing to the local art ecosystem. Extending beyond the annual fair, the programme supports the emirate’s art scene by facilitating creative opportunities across the year in different locations including Manarat Al Saadiyat, UNESCO World Heritage Site Al Ain Oasis, Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain, and Qasr Al Hosn.

For Beyond: Emerging Artists 2019, a mentorship programme with established artists and curators Ramin and Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian has been running all year, enabling the three participating artists to develop a new body of work for the fair. The two internationally renowned artists creating new site-specific works for Beyond: Artist Commissions will be producing pieces primarily for exhibition in Al Ain but also in the recently reopened Qasr Al Hosn in downtown Abu Dhabi.

Beyond: Artist Commissions

This year, Abu Dhabi Art has presented the internationally renowned artists Oliver Beer and Leandro Erlich as the commissioned artists for Beyond 2019. 

Beyond: Artist Commissions will feature Leandro Erlich’s site-specific work The Heart of Water, a mysterious piece in Al Ain Oasis that juxtaposes the delicate and ephemeral beauty of its centerpiece cloud with the harsh and rugged landscape surrounding the installation. The work will draw on the deep history of the region while inscribing the precision of modernity. “Water is, after all, the secret heart of an oasis, and clouds represent the heart of rain,” the artist commented.

Erlich is an internationally exhibited Argentine conceptual artist whose work has been shown worldwide in countries including Japan, Italy, China, the USA, and the Netherlands. He also has a permanent exhibition at the Gare du Nord, Paris.

Oliver Beer, a prominent British sculptor, and video artist will bring installations to the historic sites of Qasr Al Hosn and Al Jahili Fort. After studying Fine Art at the University of Oxford, Beer later graduated from the Academy of Contemporary Music and draws on his vast musical knowledge in his work. Beer has created fascinating performances in which spectators take part and share their emotions and perceptions to create an experience for both artists and audiences. The artist’s work has been shown worldwide, most recently – and to great acclaim – at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this past summer. Beyond: Artist Commissions marks the first time his work will be exhibited in Abu Dhabi.

Qasr Al Hosn has hosted two video artworks showing reanimations of Aladdin’s Genie, created by Beer in collaboration with over 1000 Abu Dhabi schoolchildren at workshops organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi’s Education and Outreach Team. The installation allows visitors to see this much-appropriated and interpreted story through the hands and minds of children. Following a second round of workshops with a further 1000 children, Beer has also created a series of reanimation paintings based on works in the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection, also to be shown in Qasr Al Hosn.

At Al Jahili Fort, Beer has exhibited nine further pieces. Three are two-dimensional sculptures, featuring a dissected out and adapted ‘ready-mades’ including ancient swords and daggers subjected to musical graffiti; the remaining six are reanimation paintings of historic artworks, combining modernity and tradition.

Beyond: Emerging Artists

This year’s Beyond: Emerging Artists programme has showcased the creative talents of up and coming Emirati artists Ayesha Hadhir, Rawdha Khalifa Al Ketbi, and Shaikha Fahad Al Ketbi, who share inspiration in the striking and unique landscapes surrounding Abu Dhabi as well as the daily lives of Emiratis and residents within the region.

Having completed a yearlong curator-led mentorship involving workshops and studio visits, these three artists were presented their work during Abu Dhabi Art 2019, and their collaborative exhibition will remain open until 8 February 2020, moving to Hall M in  Manarat Al Saadiyat once the fair concludes.

The curators of this year’s programme, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian, have lived and worked together in Dubai for over ten years, propagating a form of collaboration that doesn’t suppress individualism. They include social and political commentary in their work and curatorship, as well as weaving insights into their artistic practice and daily lives within the exhibitions and installations they create.

The three curators commented: “Ayesha Hadhir, Shaikha Al Ketbi, and Rawdha Al Ketbi’s work is a relentless exploration of a reality creating new visual possibilities. What binds these artists’ practice is their absence/presence technique – an engagement with a specific manner of expression, not only the tools it uses.”

Ayesha Hadhir was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and her work is inspired by elements and objects that revolve around familial histories and activities, such as diving and fishing. Features of Abu Dhabi are clearly woven into her art, both symbolically and physically. Her work has been featured at notable institutions across the Emirates such as Maraya Arts Centre, Al Qattara Arts Centre, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project. Rawdha Khalifa Al Ketbi uses the tassels of carpets, curtains, or clothing to capture traces of presence (or absence). Using upcycled materials alongside photography and mixed media, through these mediums she explores her surroundings and memories in order to preserve the history of ‘place’. Shaikha Al Ketbi’s art is inspired by the desert and its emptiness as well as its ‘amplified silence’. Her work has been shown internationally in countries including Britain, Bahrain, Armenia, and the USA.



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