Colin Gleadell covers the action at Art Dubai:
The fair itself provided a balance of galleries from across the globe. But, whereas three years ago it had seemed more like a platform for Western and Indian galleries to market their artists to the Gulf, the focus this year was more on Middle Eastern artists. Many were part of the Middle Eastern diaspora and were introduced to local collectors by Western galleries. Goff and Rosenthal from New York, for example, devoted its stand to the US-based Iraqi artist Ahmed Alsoudani, who fled Baghdad after the first Gulf war. Alsoudani’s figurative paintings, inspired by conflict in the Middle East, are currently on show in the exhibition Unveiled: Art from the Middle East at the Saatchi Gallery in London and sold out in Dubai with prices ranging from $2,000 for a print to $65,000 for a large painting. Buyers came from Kuwait, Lebanon and Dubai, said dealer Robert Goff.
Another artist featured in the Saatchi exhibition, 28-year-old Hayv Kahraman, a Kurdish Iraqi based in the US, was also selling well through the Third Line, a gallery based in Dubai and Doha, Qatar. Two superbly executed paintings, influenced by Japanese prints, depicted women as marionettes – a comment on the oppression of women in Iraq – and sold for $11,000 and $13,000 each.
There were also sell-out shows by the Athr Gallery from Jeddah, with the first exhibition of Saudi Arabian artists
at the fair, and Michael Schultz from Berlin who sold all his works by German, Korean and Chinese artists, including a lifesize, painted-fibreglass car by Ma Jun to a member of Dubai’s royal family for $114,000.
But most agreed with Elisabeth Lalouschek of London’s October Gallery that business had slowed. After a sell-out
last year, her gallery posted sales stickers on a $450,000 wall hanging by the Ghanaian El Anatsui, and two paintings by Palestinian artist Laila Shawa, priced at $45,000 each.