GAG Projects and Sutton Gallery at Art Dubai - Art Collector

GAG Projects stand at Art Dubai 2013 with Matt Collishaw works in the background. Courtesy: GAG Projects, Berlin

3 April 2013 | The seventh edition of Art Dubai (20- 23 March 2013) drew over 25,000 visitors to an art fair that is rapidly establishing itself as a leading contemporary art fair for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia region. Art Dubai 2013 featured 75 galleries from 30 countries including two with Australian origins.

As a destination for collectors Art Dubai provides an international art fair experience and a diverse introduction to the local art scene. Art Dubai runs concurrently with a variety of associated events including the United Arab Emirates Art Week which features gallery district open nights;
Sikka, an annual exhibition of established and emerging UAE artists; the exhibition and announcement of the Abraaj Group Art Prize; the fair’s Global Art Forum talks, and the various artist commissions for the art fair itself. Art Dubai also coincides on a biannual basis with the renowned Sharjah Biennial, located only a short trip away in the neighboring emirate, it presents the opportunity to explore the city and engage with an exhibition program that this year featured works by artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Superflex and Australian artist Angelica Mesiti.

Art Dubai 2013 was Sutton Gallery’s third time as an invited participant; in 2011 the gallery showcased a solo exhibition of Raafat Ishak’s work hoping that his connections to Egypt and the Middle East would connect with the art fair audience. Sutton Gallery co-director Samantha Comte commented on the success of this first venture, “Ishak’s works were acquired by the Barjeel Foundation, who have continued to follow his practice and purchased a second large-scale Ishak installation direct from Sutton Gallery late last year. So it’s been about building the relations, and once the relationships are there, there have been sales at the time, but also ongoing.” This level of success continued when in the following year Sutton Gallery exhibited the work of Nusra Latif Qureshi and Elizabeth Gower at Art Dubai 2012. As a result a suite of Qureshi’s work sold to a private collector and Gower’s work sold at a later date to a hotel chain in Abu Dhabi.

This year Sutton Gallery diversified even more, exhibiting works by Lindy Lee and Gordon Bennett alongside works of returning artists Raafat Ishak and Nusra Latif Qureshi. On conclusion of Art Dubai 2013 Comte was able to report on Sutton Gallery’s participation: “we were pleased to receive very strong interest in Lindy Lee’s work and a number of commissions are being discussed … Nusra Latif Qureshi’s paintings also received a fantastic response, from both private collectors and major institutions, particularly her
Accomplished Mission I, II, and III. Raafat Ishak’s New Egypt and Old Egypt sold to an institution. Members from royal families of Sharjah and Dubai visited the stand and enquired about Ishak’s, Qureshi’s and also Gordon Bennett’s works.”

For Paul Greenaway, director of Greenaway Art Gallery and Berlin-based GAG Projects, this was his first time as a participant at Art Dubai. Under the GAG Projects title he presented work by Mat Collishaw, Ariel Hassan and Hossien Valamanesh. Greenaway is a seasoned art fair participant, with Art Dubai 2013 being his 72nd art fair in 21 years. Like Sutton Gallery, the artists exhibiting with GAG Projects were selected due to their connections with the Middle East or an established international profile, Greenaway commented on his launch at Art Dubai; “you have to be as strategic as possible with the axis of the world shifting from Europe and America to the Middle East and Asia. We have to shift with it really. And I am fortunate that I have shown Hossein Valamanesh for 21 years and Ariel Hassan for the last 6 years and Valamanesh has been rediscovered as a prodigal son, returned to the region in a sense.
“I knew Mat Collishaw was going to judge the two major prizes for the art fair… and I knew Valamanesh was going to have a survey show here at this time and as Ariel Hassan's name might seem familiar with people in this region it made sense to bring these three to this art fair.”

As a first outing Art Dubai 2013 proved a rewarding process for the GAG Projects artists as well, with the announcement that GAG Projects will return in 2014. Paul Greenaway reported back on the results of their participation at Art Dubai: “the fair was great, the audience genuinely interested and sales were healthy for our first time at the fair. Ariel Hassan sold a large painting and we sold 13 photos by Mat Collishaw and we are negotiating for the sale of a major work by Hossein Valamanesh. With all new contacts for the gallery we hope to build on our initial success next year.”

An estimated 45 million USD worth of art was exhibited at Art Dubai 2013 with strong sales and numerous acquisitions for private and public collections reported by the majority of exhibitors. With the Australian contingent reporting such positive results Art Dubai is proving to be securing its place as an art fair of choice for galleries, artists and collectors from around the world.

Hannah McKissock-Davis

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