Rakeb Sile, whose London- and Addis Ababa–based gallery Addis Fine Art became the first Ethiopian gallery to participate in Art Dubai back in 2018, also highlighted the fair’s diverse offering as its greatest strength. “Every other fair that we do is very white,” she said. “It’s Western galleries with Western artists, and there is more consciousness now about Black artists, African artists, artists of color, women. There’s a lot of talk about that kind of stuff, but the hegemony is still there. So we tend to be very much the minority in terms of diversity when we’re in other fairs. Art Dubai is the most exciting for me because it allows me to discover things that I wouldn’t necessarily discover.”
Because the travel corridor between Addis Ababa and Dubai is open, Sile’s business partner and co-founder of the gallery, Mesai Haileleul, was able to attend the fair in person. “It was a pleasant surprise simply because people were happy not only to see us, but also happy to see these amazing works,” he said on the fair’s busy opening day. “The commitment made by Pablo and his team to take Art Dubai from where it was and install it here at DIFC is tough. They’ve pulled it off, obviously.”
Early inquiries have translated into sales of two figurative paintings by the Ethiopian artist
from Addis Fine Art’s booth, for prices ranging from £4,000 to £6,000 ($5,500–$8,250).