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  • Work by four UAE artists to be showcased in Kochi as part of Abu Dhabi Art’s international exhibition programmes

    Published on June 28, 2024

    Bangalore: Abu Dhabi Art, under the remit of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, has announced that two exhibitions: Beyond Emerging Artists 2023; and Gateway: Maqam, will be presented for the first time in Kochi, India from 12 July to 15 August 2024.

    The upcoming showcase of Beyond Emerging Artists 2023 at Kochi’s Durbar Hall comes after its successful showing at during this year’s Venice Biennale, where works by the BEA programme’s artists Almaha Jaralla, Samo Shalaby, and Latifa Saeed were displayed.

    In another first, the Kochi event will mark the inaugural international showing of Maqam, a survey show of works by pioneering UAE artist Hashel Al Lamki, curated by Dr. Venetia Porter for Abu Dhabi Art’s annual Gateway exhibition.

    The exhibitions will travel to Kochi in partnership with Rizq Art Initiative (RAi), a new artistic space in Abu Dhabi overseen by Shafeena Yusuff Ali and Meena Vari. RAi presents artists from the Global South, providing a valuable opportunity for both emerging and established artists from the region to position their practice within the global discourse.

    Meena Vari, Chief Curator and Creative Director at RAi, commented: “At RAi, we actively enable a dialogue that intertwines the unique voices of the Global South with the UAE’s vibrant cultural tapestry. This alignment of international and local art practitioners promises to enhance the cultural conversation in Abu Dhabi and abroad, making the UAE an even more dynamic and inclusive artistic hub.”

    The venue selected by RAi for the two Abu Dhabi Art exhibitions, Durbar Hall, has played a pivotal role in the South Indian city’s history. Formerly owned by the Maharaja of Kochi, the present-day Art Gallery building was where the Maharaja held his durbar (princely court), hosting the finest artists, dancers, scholars, and musicians from across India. It has more recently been used as part of the Kochi Biennale, transforming the historical landmark into a state-of-the-art contemporary art gallery.

    Shafeena Yusuff Ali, founder of RAi and a Friend of Abu Dhabi Art, said: “The team at Rizq Art Initiative and I are honoured to bring together this cross-cultural partnership to further solidify the deep-rooted socio-economic symbiotic relationship between our two regions. Art has a singular power to bring people, places, and stories together, and we believe in its strength to encourage dialogue and inspire.

    “Together with Abu Dhabi Art, bringing each of these amazing artists and their incredible practices to Kochi, in association with the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi, is a long-time dream coming to fruition. The artistic traditions of both the UAE and India are rich and vibrant, sharing values of creativity, community, and support for their artists. I am grateful to be part of both communities, witnessing the seamless blending of our artistic practices and the mutual respect we have for each other’s cultural heritage.”

    Since 2017, Abu Dhabi Art’s BEA programme has provided three emerging artists in the UAE with a platform from which to develop their practice and create ambitious art projects. The artists participate in a year-long programme of workshops and studio visits under the mentorship of a guest curator, before showcasing their works at the annual Art Fair in November at Manarat Al Saadiyat. The curator for the 2023 BEA programme now being exhibited internationally was art historian, publisher, and curator Morad Montazami.

    Launched in 2016, Gateway is an annual art exhibition that highlights local and international artists through a unique curatorial perspective. Hosted at Manarat Al Saadiyat, each year a guest curator is invited to curate the exhibition, with the 2023 Abu Dhabi Art Gateway exhibition curated by Dr. Venetia Porter presenting Maqam, a survey show of works by pioneering UAE artist Hashel Al Lamki.

    Venetia Porter, Curator of Maqam, added: “It has been a joy and a privilege working with Hashel and Abu Dhabi Art on Maqam. I am thrilled that his beautiful and thought-provoking work will be seen by new audiences in the glorious setting of Durbar Hall Art Gallery in Kochi.”

    Dyala Nusseibeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art, concluded: “Abu Dhabi Art continually seeks to provide emerging and established artists from the UAE with opportunities to develop their practice and show their work to new audiences. We are grateful to long standing Friend of Abu Dhabi Art Shafeena Yusuff Ali for collaborating with us to take these exhibitions to Kochi, India, in what will be an important moment for the artists in their careers.”


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