25-years of Arab creativity inaugurated as part of Abu Dhabi Festival opening ceremony
- United Arab Emirates: Thursday, March 07 - 2013 at 09:46
- PRESS RELEASE
A paramount visual arts exhibition honouring 25 years of creativity in the Arab world was unveiled last night at the opening ceremony of the 10th anniversary edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival, a four-week extravaganza of music, visual and performing arts that continues until 31st March.
The gala opening was inaugurated by Abu Dhabi Festival Patron H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research; H.E. Hoda Ibrahim Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder & Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival; H.E. Farouk Hosni, former Minister of Culture for Egypt; Mona Khazindar, General Director of Institut du Monde Arabe (exhibition partner), H.E. the Rt Hon David Willets, UK Minister for Universities and Science, H.E. Alain Azouaou, French Ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Dominic Jermey, UK Ambassador to the UAE; and a selection of participating artists. Distinguished guests and dignitaries were joined by hundreds of Emirati undergraduate students from the federal universities of Abu Dhabi, including applicants of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2013 Visual Arts Award, as well as art enthusiasts from across the UAE.
Curated by Ehab El Labban, the Egyptian artist, critic and gallerist, the carefully selected collection of innovative works by artists of Arab origin aims, in El Labban's words, 'to paint a precise picture of the distinguishing traits of an Arab artist'. Inspired by personal experiences of evolving Arab societies, over 40 artists from 16 countries are exhibiting work from video and film to paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations.
Spanning over 1000 square metres, the exhibition was first presented in Paris in 2012 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Institut du Monde Arabe, (an ADMAF strategic international cultural partner). In its second edition, and Arab world premiere, at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Festival, visitors can experience a number of new works by the featured artists. To complement existing pieces by Sharjah-based Karima Al-Shomaly, and award-winning artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz, the capital's art lovers have the opportunity to view an additional section specially curated by the Abu Dhabi Festival that highlights the breadth and depth of Emirati visual arts practice. Entitled 'Three Generations', a further ten home-grown Emirati talents are exhibited, including Sumayyah Al Suwaidi (the UAE's first female Emirati digital artist), Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi (an Al Ain-based self-taught photographer, graphic designer and writer), and Emirati artist and designer, Mohammed AlAstad Al Hammadi, among others.
Following the opening, H.E. Mrs. Hoda I. Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, expanded on the need for major collective exhibitions: "The exhibition provides a window into the cultural currents of the region through the eyes of some of its most innovative and creative minds. Artists are essential to society. They challenge commonly held perspectives with innovative thinking. They raise awareness about social issues, break down barriers to cross-cultural understanding and global dialogue, and inspire creative ideas. The exhibition is therefore a reflection of where the Arab world has come from, where it is now, and where it is going. The audience we welcomed here today were enthralled by the range of styles, approaches and mediums used and equally excited by the surge of creative ideas and originality prevalent within each work. Given our continued emphasis on visual arts education, development, and practice, '25 Years of Arab Creativity' is a pillar of the Festival's 10th anniversary edition."
The exhibition is open to public throughout the duration of the festival. In keeping with the festival's dedication to community outreach, it is accompanied by a family art studio, a lecture by featured artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz, guided tours, and a limited-edition book. In addition, the Festival is holding a curatorial workshop as part of its 'Ways of Seeing,' art appreciation programme exclusively for Zayed University students. In doing so, the exhibition offers to all a fresh perspective on the region's recent visual arts developments.
Looking towards the future, the Abu Dhabi Festival Visual Arts Award 2013 was also launched during the opening ceremony. Emerging Emirati artists and undergraduates are encouraged to demonstrate outstanding creativity through an original piece of work inspired by the Abu Dhabi Festival exhibition '25 Years of Arab Creativity'. The Abu Dhabi Festival Visual Arts Award 2013 is open to Emirati emerging artists and undergraduate students who attend and register at the opening of the Festival Exhibition at 7pm on 5th March.
Over the past 25 years, hundreds of contemporary artists have presented works representing an alternative vision of their societies in the Institut du Monde Arabe: a renowned museum mandated to promote understanding of the Arab world and its cultures in the West. Mona Khazindar, General Director of Institut du Monde Arabe, said: "In line with the progress made over the last 25 years - during which the IMA has organised more than 100 exhibitions devoted to contemporary plastic arts, '25 Years of Arab Creativity' aims to provide an overview of the main spheres explored by Arab artists in recent years and the inner sources of inspiration that create an art whose characteristics are gradually taking shape. It is very fitting that the UAE, and specifically Abu Dhabi Festival, would be a major stopping point in our traveling exhibition, as the Festival is committed to sharing our mission to support and promote contemporary Arab art."
The 10th Abu Dhabi Festival continues until March 31, bringing the best of international and regional visual arts, opera, music, ballet and traditional arts to the Emirates. Highlights will include 'Sensory O,' a performance of opera for children by the Scottish Opera; appearances by international musical stars Gilberto Gil, Placido Domingo, YUNDI, Joshua Bell and Ghadi & Oussama Rahbani; workshops on art appreciation and traditional Emirati arts; and the Mariinsky Ballet & Orchestra performing works by the legendary choreographer Mikhail Fokine.
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