Du-bai or Not Du-bai?

Definitely Du-bai.

I love it.

Athier Mousawi artwork

As with all art fairs, it’s as much an opportunity for people to reconnect as it is about buying art. It was equally such an opportunity for me when I was in London as it is now I’m in Saudi Arabia, because we’re all scattered all over the world. New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong… Jeddah.

This year was even better than the other years. I wasn’t there with Sotheby’s, I was there in my own capacity as Madder Red. It was a liberating feeling. To be attending the fair as a client was an entirely different animal.

It was a pleasure to see Quadro Gallery’s space filled to bursting with people taking in Athier Mousawi and Manal al Dowayan’s new work.

I love Athier’s paintings, his connection with his cultural heritage is so vibrantly portrayed within them. I can see the richly symbolic modernist Iraqi aesthetic, and its cubist tendencies. It inspires me that this London born and raised artist is looking to his roots and celebrating them rather than denigrating them or looking to a western mode of representation to portray his third-culture opinions.

I was touched to have been invited to Sotheby’s lunch the following day. It was a great success with lots of collectors seated in the sunshine of a fountain courtyard.  A selection of artwork was temporarily on exhibition in the ballroom for their Contemporary Art Doha sale, including a work by Adil Abidin that I loved, and some gorgeous works by Mohammed Ehsai. I wanted to have a second look at the Hayv Kahraman they had exhibited in Jeddah during Jeddah Art Week but that must have been safely in Doha for the auction.

Wim Delvoye’s Truck from his Gothic works.

I was delighted to see a couple of galleries from Africa at the fair this year. Over the years Art Dubai has been tested out by the Far East and India, and those galleries don’t seem to return. Which is a strong indication that the market is much more geared to either regional or western artists. An interesting point given that Dubai is so ethnically diverse and well connected to India and the Far East.

I absolutely loved Wim Delvoye’s work at Arndt gallery. Although it’s not at all intentional: within the juxtaposition of gothic architecture and contemporary subject matter can be found a commentary on modernity in the Middle East.

European Gothic is rooted in Islamic architecture, the immensely high pointed arches and cross-ribbed vaults spread into Europe from Moorish Spain and Sicily via the Norman conquests. Today the roads of the Arab world are absolutely rammed with HGVs, to me at least they are a strong reminder of home. To see the ancient aesthetic of Islam forming the framework of something that has become synonymous with the region is quite moving.


I attended Tectonic in a warehouse space at DIFC. The selection of artists and media was diverse, and I have to say it was the first truly innovative independent art event I have seen in Dubai. Good work Aya.



Fred Eerdeken’s shadow installation



© Copyright Madder Red By Dalya Islam 2014. By DESIGN45