Installation view of David Zwirner’s booth at Abu Dhabi Art, 2015. Photo via @abudhabiart on Instagram.
Crowds packed at the entrance during Abu Dhabi Art’s vernissage, waiting for officials to complete a thorough sweep, which saw heavy security as Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan (National Security Advisor and Vice Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council) opened the fair. He was joined by Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth, and Community Development, as well as other dignitaries. The fair’s seventh edition, which drew in 20,000 visitors, took place once more at the 15,400-square-meter Manarat Al Saadiyat, smack next to the disused and rusty UAE Pavilion, a comparatively relic-like building designed by Foster + Partners. The fair is split into two halls, A and B, and both presented airy, well-lit booths.
Left: Dan Flavin, untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 2, 1972. © 2015 Stephen Flavin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London. Right: Dan Flavin, untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 1, 1972. © 2015 Stephen Flavin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.
There was an air of tranquility in the minimalist presentation of
Nearby at Leila Heller Gallery, which just inaugurated its Dubai outpost with exhibitions of Ghada Amer and Wim Delvoye, the floor was parqueted and the booth glowed in the golden works of Amer, Y.Z. Kami, Hadieh Shafie, and Ross Bleckner. Sales ranged from $28,000 to six-figure sums, said the gallery’s Daniel Hamparsumyan, with Kami’s Golden Dome II selling “for $150,000 to a major Emirati collector.” Notably, the gallery also presented two (unsold) works by Lebanese modern master Paul Guiragossian, with whose estate the gallery will work.
An impressive work on paper by Waqas Khan—the artist’s largest to date—dominated Galerie Krinzinger’s booth, where pieces by Marina Abramović, Alfred Tarazi, Maha Malluh, and Abdulnasser Gharem were also on offer. In addition to Khan’s meditative showstopper were Tarazi’s panoramas, each a roll of paper collaged and painted over by the Lebanese artist, which viewers can rotate via a knob on the work’s side. A two-panel version depicts members of the Lebanese Forces on the right and those of the Amal Movement on the left. “Here I present two sides of the same history that don’t reconcile," said Tarazi of the work. “You have to see where history meets.”
Therein lies the primary reason why galleries participate in Abu Dhabi Art: to present and sell museum pieces. This may explain the increased number of works in the fair’s Beyond section. Such acquisition decisions naturally take time, and in the UAE capital’s art fair, many say the finissage is more important than the vernissage. “We are still in discussion on some pieces,” said Berktold—a sentiment echoed by many.