The Guides

Your guide to Art Dubai 2019

Art Dubai 2019

Here are the highlights on what to look out for during the flagship event of Dubai Art Season in 2019.

Words by Aneesha Rai & Ankita Bhowmick in The Guides · Mar 19th, 2019

Every year, Art Dubai looks to be bigger and better, and this year does not disappoint. The 13th edition features the most extensive and internationally diverse programme to date. There are four gallery sections, split into 92 galleries from 42 countiries exhibiting artworks by more than 500 artists, representing well over 80 nationalities.

What's New

This year, Art Dubai has a new gallery section called Bawwaba (meaning gateway), showcasing art from the Global south guest curated by French Cameroonian curator, Elise Atagana. In addition to this, there is a new segment called UAE NOW, curated by Munira Al Sayegh explores the country's independent, local artist-run platform. It includes Bait 15, Banat Collective, Daftar Asfar, Jaffat el Aqlam and Public Art Collective (PAC). 

What To See

Art Dubai Contemporary

Art Dubai Contemporary

This year, Art Dubai contemporary features 59 galleries from 34 countries spread across two halls presenting some of the most notable contemporary artists working today. 

Art Dubai Modern

Art Dubai modern

The Art Dubai Modern Gallery is the only platform in the world dedicated to museum-quality works by 20th Century Modern masters from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. It is presented alongside Art Dubai Contemporary, giving context to the historical narrative being played out across the booths. 



The new gallery section of Bawwaba, which means gateway in Arabic, addresses themes like global migration, socioeconomic structures and identity, reflecting the fair’s drive for diversity, inclusivity and discussion on new and alternative perspectives. 

The gallery features 10 solo presentations from artists who are from, based in or focused on projects about Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Central and South Asia. The performances resonate deeply with narratives around colonisation histories and contemporary experiences.

Don't forget to check out the work of:

1. Gözde İlkin

 The Istanbul-based artist is known for making work out of repurposed domestic fabrics such as tablecloths, curtains and bed duvets, which incorporate stitching, drawing, painting as well as video and sound installation. Gözde İlkin’s body of work addresses issues of belonging and highlights layers of existence as well as emotional attachment to objects in an environment of migration. 

2. Wanja Kimani

 Based in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Wanja Kimani’s artistic works shed light to her experiences of migration and a longing for familiarity. They touch on upon issues such as cultural adherence, identity, separation, and remembrance. Her multimedia works showcase dream-like stories of memories and imagination.

 3. Chourouk Hriech 

 Chourouk Hriech is a French artist of Moroccan origin and is known for working primarily with monochrome, two-dimensional and often surreal drawings. Her works draw inspiration from architecture, urban patterns, vegetation and social landscapes. The size and scale of her art pieces vary greatly but her use of black and white reduces her depictions to montages of pattern and texture so as to create mesmerising pieces that depict contemporary urban life.

Hipa Tolerance As History

This very exciting and almost too short photo exhibition comes from the private collection of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammend bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. The exhibition showcases a series of rare photographs from the 1960s & 1970s. 

Uae Now

A new segment curated by Abu Dhabi-based Munira Al Sayegh, UAE Now is a new segment that explores UAE’s emerging independent local artist-run platforms and putting the spotlight on youth and independent home-grown subcultures. The segment features five platforms showcasing their respective initiatives, with a daily programme of talks, workshops and performance open to all Art Dubai visitors. 

The five platforms that are invited to participate in the 13th edition of Art Dubai are, Bait 15, an artist-run studio and exhibition space in Abu Dhabi and the only platform to have its own physical space; Banat Collective, a creative online community to discuss womanhood in the Middle East and North Africa; Daftar Asfar, a ‘travelling sketchbook’ which invites artists to create a collection of artworks within its pages; Jaffat el Aqlam, a platform for the written and spoken word; and PAC (Public Art Collective), a research-based organisation dedicated to the question of the role of the artist in the public realm in the UAE.

Highlights of the Programme: 

March 20, 6.30pm: ‘Me(dusa)’, performance/poetry with Sarah Al Agroobi

March 21: Talk on the role of language in the arts with @Bymajhool 

March 22, 1 pm: 8 Fold Zine Workshop with Jaffat El Aqlam 

March 23: Talk on Vulnerability and Shared Voices, led by Banat Collective’s Sara Safwan, with Sarah Al Agroobi (Letters Project), Malda Smadi (In Transit Archives), Tara Aldughaither (Tara Talks, Nota) and Munira Al Sayegh.

Ithra Art Prize

The Art Prize was launched in 2017 by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Saudi Arabia in partnership with Art Dubai. Its aim is to support and promote emerging Saudi contemporary artists on a global platform.

The winner of Ithra Art Prize 2019, Daniah Alsaleh’s large-scale multimedia artwork explores the structure and complexities of language, deconstructing it to its smaller unit of sound, the phoneme, which lends the large-scale multimedia artwork its name, Sawtam. 

Global Art Forum School Is A Factory

A very enticing series of talks under World Art Forum, 'School is a Factory' addresses the urgent challenges and opportunities facing education today, including attempting to answer what education should prioritise, the dilemma of learning within an accelerated machinization, the blessing/curse of learning for life, whether higher education will truly be accessible across all levels in society, and more. These talks will run over 2 days, from March 20-21st. Don't miss "Swamp is a School?' and "School is the commons" between 4.15 and 5.45 pm on Thursday, 21st March. 


The Residents is Art Dubai’s unique annual residency programme and gallery section which features twelve artists, represented by a selection of Latin America’s leading galleries. The residents come from places that include Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Cuba and Colombia and spend upto eight weeks and get to know the life and culture of the Emirates and the local art scene so as to create new artworks for the fair which merge their distinct artistic practice with their surroundings.

The Artists: 

1.  Nicanor Aráoz - Represented by Barro, Buenos Aires

Nicanor Aráoz has come from Argentina and produces objects, installations, drawings and sculptures using as reference images from comics, imagery from the Internet and romantic mythologies from gothic art. His primary attempt is to push the boundaries of materials in search of intermediate emotional states.

2. Laura Lima - represented by A Gentil Carioca Gallery, Rio de Janeiro

Based in Brazil, Laura Lima’s works are experimental arrangements that explore the margins of our perception along the boundaries between reality, illusion, and fiction. She works across different mediums and frequently subjects the body to surprising juxtapositions with objects and architectures. With each installation, Laura Lima consistently reinvents the viewer’s encounter with her work, skillfully considering the nature of perception, social relationships, and human behavior, while creating profound and startling aesthetic experiences.

3. José Manuel Mesías - represented by Galeria Continua

José Manuel Mesías is based in Cuba and takes notable moments from history and re-contextualises them, combining them with contemporary moments and more intimate occurrences. The artist aims to capture urban beauty and simultaneous deterioration in his works. He seeks to portray the same anxiety and marvel he experiences through his everyday life and that, he argues, the world provokes in equal amounts.

Commissions & performances

The commissions and performances involve artists from Brazil, Portugalm Hong Kong, & Trinidad and Tobaigo. One of the commissions include 'Solaroca' by a Brazilian artist collective called Opavivara!, which creates a beach-like environment under the shade of an oca (a Brazilian indigenous house) with Middle Eastern elements. 

Marlon Griffith an artist from Trinidad and Tobaigo, developed his version of 'A Walk into the night', taking the aesthetics of Trinidadian carnivals and West African shadow puppets as a starting point, the piece stages both a large-scale celebratory procession and a magical play of light and shadow. The performance is a collaboration with the Philippine Business Council-Dubai & the Northern Emirates, the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai and the Filipino Community in Dubai.

A Walk into the Night will involve 120 performers, as well as music composed by Exekiel Nuñez and costumes in collaboration with Filipino fashion designer Armand Zarris Manapat, and invites the fair’s visitors to join in the performance, which will pass through the fair. The performance takes place on March 19 between 9-9.45pm & March 22 between 7.30-8.15pm throughout the fair.

The second, is Samson Young's Muted Situation #2 Muted Liion Dance, which is a reimagining of the traditional Chinese lion dance, where performers mimic a lion’s movements to bring luck and fortune. In place of the usual percussive music, the dancers will perform to a soundtrack made of unusual sounds such as the intense breathing of the performers, rattling of the lion costume, and the stomping of the feet. With this, the audience is forced to reimagine the aural experience of watching this dance. There is a performance daily between 5-5.15pm at the Joharah Foyer in Madinat Jumeirah.

Sikka Art Fair

Returning for its 9th edition in the heart of Old Dubai at Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, from March 16-24, Sikka Art Fair, reflects 2019 as the Year of Tolerance in the UAE by bringing together emerging regional talents displaying works under the theme An Open Window to Art and Tolerance. For the first time, Sikka Art Fair will showcase two distinctive but intertwined experiences, ‘Sikka by Day,’ celebrating Al Fahidi tenants, the neighbourhood, and their art exhibitions and installations and ‘Sikka by Night’ where multiple cultural activations will be hosted.