Online Magazine
Cover Story
The Indian art showcase at Art Dubai 2009
Designed for art collectors, curators, art professionals and artists, the week-long Art Dubai festival included a wide range of shows, seminars, the art district tours and captivating cultural projects. Emphasis was on galleries representing artists from South and Central Asia, the Far East and the Middle East, showing alongside established artists from the West.

Contemparabia comprised a unique geographical and cultural excursion, focusing on some outstanding cultural projects in the Gulf. It offered an opportunity to experience quality cultural activity. The participating galleries were selected on the merits of each individual exhibit proposal. The aim was to create an innovative and appealing event.

John Martin, Art Dubai Co-founder and Director, stated, “Dubai offers visitors an unrivaled vantage point onto the shifting global art scene, and the quality of the event and the tightly selected group of galleries reaffirms Dubai’s reputation as one of the most stimulating and exciting new centers for art in the world.

“The quality of the shows by galleries across the world was a proof of the increasing importance of Dubai as a new art market hub. In an economic downturn, even the best galleries require a global presence. Art Dubai offered them the opportunity to engage with the changing face of the regional and international collecting community.”

Art Dubai 2009 aimed to provide a platform for the new media art growing by introducing a diverse program of British, Middle Eastern and Indian artists. Amongst others, there were performances by Kirstie Macleod (supported by British Council), Roula Haj Ismail (supported by Maya and Ramzy Rasamny), and Shilpa Gupta (supported by Art Asia Pacific).

New commissions from leading international artists included India’s Bari Kumar whose large-scale fibre constructions composed of tightly packed rows of colorful material reminded of the small Indian linen shops that the artist recalled visiting as a child. Grosvenor Vadehra also showcased Shibu Natesan and Prajakta Palav Aher. Her painting showed Lord Ganesha in a local train. Artist Debanjan Roy’s sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi with an iPod was also noteworthy. Jagannath Panda's sculpture showing the Indian goat drew curious visitors.

An eclectic mix of works by artists - contemporary and modern – like Anju Dodiya, Arpita Singh, Subodh Gupta and K.K. Hebbar was presented by Bodhi Art. Sudhir Patwardhan and Zarina Hashmi balanced the showcase with a cityscape and ‘Roadlines’ respectively. Anju Dodiya’s ‘Bird Man’ was from her STPI series.

Providing a glimpse of the contemporary art fair, a news report in DNA mentioned: “An exclusive selection of over 60 of the world’s leading contemporary galleries from over 30 countries gathered in Dubai for the third installment of the Art Dubai. Five of them were from India. And they made sure that they brought an Indian flavor to the art fair to the max.”

The news report quoting gallery representatives owners concluded they were satisfied with the response to the works from the art enthusiasts. Sharmistha Ray from Bodhi stated, "We have sold a couple of works and I can say that it was worthwhile coming here. Mamta Singhania from Anant Art Gallery confirmed the fact that a lot of collectors showed interest in buying the works. Manisha Gera Baswani, Probir Gupta and Sheila Makhijani were among the artists represented by the gallery.

Sree Goswami from Project 88 commented, "Although last year was much better, it's been good this year as well and coming here was not a waste." Shireen Gandhy was quoted as saying, "I’ve come (here) with very few expectations since the overall art scene is like that, but people are definitely appreciating the Indian art."

Gallery Chemould Prescott showcased Aditi Singh, Desmond Lazaro, Dhruvi Acharya, Hema Upadhyay, Jagannath Panda, Jitish Kallat, Reena Saini Kallat, Kiyomi Talaulicar and Rashid Rana. Aicon Gallery presented works by Baiju Parthan and Talha Rathore. Project 88's counter also housed three works by M. F. Husain.

All in all, the Indian art showcase at Art Dubai 2009 was exciting, exhilarating and fruitful.