DIFC Gulf Art Fair 2007 & 2008

From 2007 -2008, this was the official site for the DIFC Gulf Art Fair.
Content is from the site's 2007 & 2008 archived pages.

Welcome to the 2008 DIFC Gulf Art Fair
Madinat Arena
Jumeirah Beach
United Arab Emirates



The DIFC Gulf Art Fair will take place at the spectacular Madinat Arena and Fort Island, a state of the art exhibition hall located within walking distance of some of the most luxurious hotels in the world and within the Madinat Jumeirah Resort. Built around a large lagoon beside the world famous Burj al Arab Hotel, the venue provides a relaxed and spacious venue for some forty international galleries.

A short drive from the airport, the Financial District and Marina City, the Madinat Arena sits equidistant between the two Palms. Parking is easily available and the numerous hotels and restaurants of the Madinat Jumeirah Resort make this an ideal base for overseas visitors for the duration of the fair.




DIFC Gulf Art Fair to curate new exhibition: Transients by Nadim Karam

Exhibition at the International Design Forum, Madinat Jumeirah 27-29 May 2007
Exhibition at XVA Gallery, Bastakia, Summer Show, 15 June – 15th September 2007

Following on from the tremendous success of the inaugural DIFC Gulf Art Fair in March, the fair will curate a new exhibition of Lebanese artist Nadim Karam’s work in Dubai this summer. Karam was among the sixteen artists commissioned to make large-scale installations for the fair.

Nadim Karam is on the advisory board of the International Design Forum, and will be a key-note speaker at their event organized by Moutamarat this month. Running alongside the forum, the DIFC Gulf Art Fair will curate a display of his work both inside and outside at the Madinat Jumeirah working with the XVA Gallery, displayed with the work of Iraqi artist Halim Al’Karim.

For three months over the summer Nadim’s sculptures will be displayed in the open courtyards of XVA Gallery in Bastakia, forming a major section of their summer show. Nadim’s sculptures will be displayed both individually and in groups, some standing on recycled wooden shutters from Beirut.

‘I call the series Transients as it depicts the changing face of Dubai. The sculptures represent everything – from humans to animals to plants to objects. In fact, some of them seem different things to different people. The idea is to showcase Dubai as a city of migrants and tourists which is in a constant state of flux,’ said Karam.

The sculptures making up the Transients installation form an entire language of symbols, characters and forms which can interact both with man-made architectural structures and with nature. Some refer to the recent political troubles in Nadim’s native Lebanon, others are merely playful references to objects used in our daily lives. The artist calls them ‘Urban Toys’, the title of a recently published book which chronicles installations Nadim has undertaken in cities across the world – in Melbourne, Tokyo, Prague, London and Beirut.

‘Each of the pieces in Transients is unique. With these charming steel sculptures, Nadim has created a contemporary visual vocabulary where the insignias are shapes and colours. You can do so much with them, experiment and display them in fresh and innovative ways. They were commissioned to stand in water, but are equally compelling in other environments. These pieces would harmonize with any public or private space, and they are especially evocative in the ever-changing scenery of Dubai,’ said Laura Trelford, the curator of the forthcoming Karam exhibition.

Nadim Karam is an internationally respected artist, architect and principal of his workshop Atelier Hapsitus in Beirut, Lebanon. He is on the advisory board of the International Design Forum. 



The DIFC Global Art Forum is free of charge to the public
It is said that Dubai is the most global of the global cities, and thus the perfect setting for a new three-day discussion platform: DIFC Global Art Forum. The Forum, hosted by the DIFC Gulf Art Fair, will bring an international group of over forty artists, curators, dealers, museum directors, critics and academics together for three days to focus on issues affecting art and the arts community, with the consideration of the Middle East as a driving force.

Bringing an open forum to an Art Fair is a complex balancing act, as the commercial aspects of an art market often challenge the positions of artists, curators and exhibition makers. The DIFC Global Art Forum hopes to reconcile these diverse perspectives and map out the constellation of ideas and opinions defining art today and in the future. The central themes of this year's Forum will be Artists and their work, The Next Ten Years of Contemporary Art in the Middle East and Cities and Culture.


Wednesday 7 March - Artists Focus

Artists' interviews/presentations 
2.30 - 3.00 -Kader Attia, Artist, Paris, France 
with Jerome Sans, Director of Program, Baltic, Gateshead, United Kingdom
3.00 - 3.30 - Otto Piene, Artist, Dusseldorf, Germany
with Maria Finders, Conference Curator, Director Europe, Brunswick Arts, Paris, France 
3.30 - 4.00 Jan Fabre, Artist, Brussels, Belgium
with Michele Nicol, Curator, co-founder, Glamour Engineering, Zurich, Switzerland 
4.00 - 4.30 Lara Baladi, Artist, Cairo 
with Beth Derbyshire, Artist, United Kingdom 
4.30 - 5.00 Wim Delvoye, Artist, Brussels, Belgium 
with Vasif Kortun, Curator, Director Platform Garanti, Istanbul, Turkey

Working with Artists 
5.00 - 5.30 - Collectors, Art Consultants and Philanthropists - Panel Discussion 
Charles Asprey, Curator and collector, Charles Asprey Award for Palestinian Art, London, United Kingdom
Judith Greer, Art Collector, London, United Kingdom 
Mon Mullerschoen, Art Consultant, Munich, Germany 
Moderator - Maria Finders, Conference Curator, Director Europe, Brunswick Arts, Paris, France 
5.30 - 6.30 - The Serpentine Gallery as a laboratory - Presentations and Conversation 
Julia Peyton Jones - Director, Serpentine Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
Hans Ulrich Obrist - Serpentine Gallery, Co-director of Exhibitions and Programs and Director of International Projects, London, United Kingdom

Thursday 8 March - Middle East Focus

10:30 - 12:00 The Next Ten Years of Contemporary Art in the Middle East - Presentations and Panel Discussion 
Saleh Barakat, Art Expert, Beirut, Lebanon 
Camilla Cañellas, Writer, Critic, Curator, Barcelona, Spain 
Bassam El-Baroni, Art Critic Curator, Egypt 
Hassan Khan, Editor, Bidoun, Cairo, Egypt 
Jack Persekian - Director Sharjah Biennial, Curator, Founder and Director of Anadiel Gallery and Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Jerusalem 
Tirdad Zolghadr, Curator, Zurich, Switzerland 
Moderator: Vasif Kortun - Curator, Director, Platform Garanti, Istanbul, Turkey

Open stage for the Middle East and South Asia 
2.30-3.30 - Sharjah Biennial 8
3.30 - 4.00 - Jitsh Kallat, Artist Mumbai, India 
Anita Dube, Artist, New Deli, India 
Moderator - Savita Apte, Curator, Writer, Head of Education, DIFC Gulf Art Fair 
4.00 - 4.30 - Haluk Akakce, Artist, Istanbul, Turkey
Solmaz Shabazi, Artist, Theran, Iran, and Berlin, Germany
4.30 - 5.00Focus on Iran
Ebrahim Melamed, Director, Honart Museum
with Kamran Diba, Architect, Paris, France 
5.00 - 5.30 - Platform Garanti, Turkey 
5.30 - 6.00- Asma M'Naouar, Artist, Tunis, Tunisia
with Maria Finders, Conference Curator, Director Europe, Brunswick Arts, Paris, France 
6.00 - 6.30 - Jalal Toufic, writer, film theorist, and video artist, Beirut, Lebanon 
with Hans Ulrich Obrist - Serpentine Gallery, Co-director of Exhibitions and Programs and Director of International Projects, London, United Kingdom

Friday 9 March - Art Cities Focus

10:30 -12:00 Branding Cities through Culture - Presentations and Panel discussion 
David Barri, Director, The Art Fund, London, United Kingdom
Lisa Ball-Lechgar, Editor, Arts Manager, Cultural Consultant, Dubai, UAE 
Jan Dalley, Arts Writer Financial Times, London, United Kingdom
Jean-Hubert Martin, Curator, Direction des Musèe de France, Paris, France
Alireza Sami Azar, curator, writer, former Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, Iran 
Donna De Salvo, Chief Curator and Associate Director for Programs, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, N.Y., United States 
Kameran Diba, Architect, Theran, Iran 
Andrèe Sfeir-Semler, Director Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg and Beirut, Lebanon
Yolla Naujaim, Collector, Beirut, Lebanon 
Moderator - Daniel Birnbaum Director of the Städelschule Art Academy and Portikus Gallery, Frankfurt, Germany

2.30 - 3.15 - Building Future Art Cities - Presentations and Panel discussion 
Andreas Angelidakis , Architecture and Digital Design, Athens, Greece
Nadim Karam, Artist and Architect, Beirut, Lebanon 
Langlands & Bell, Architects and Designers, London, Kingdom

3.15 - 4.30 - World Art Cities - Presentations and Panel discussion 
Mumbai - Savita Apte, Curator, Director of Education, DIFC Gulf Art Fair, Mumbai, India
Beijing - Lance Fung, Curator, art dealer, Artistic Director, Site Santa Fe 2008, New York City, United Sates 
Zurich - Michele Nichol, Curator, co-founder, Glamour Engineering, Zurich, Switzerland 
Paris - Jill Silverman, Partner, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, France and 
Jerome Sans, Director of Programmes, Baltic, Gateshead, United Kingdom 
New York - Bob Monk, Director, Gagosian Gallery, New York City, United States 
Moderator - Maria Finders, Conference Curator, Director Europe, Brunswick Arts, Paris, France



Art Projects

*At the fair, please visit the Art Projects Information Desk in the foyer of the main
fair. All works are available for purchase.

A programme of art projects will be shown at various locations during the period of the DIFC Gulf Art Fair. Exciting new and existing works will be on view on the water terrace close to the fair arena, on Jumeirah Beach and at the DIFC complex. Further information will be available in the Fair Guide on site.

For 2007 the focus will be on works relating to the theme of Light and Language. Projects come from international artists, both up-and-coming and established.



Sarah Strang

The Bearspace Gallery

Sarah Strang presents a specially commissioned project for the DIFC Gulf Art Fair 2007 entitled Marketplace. As Dubai emerges as a global hub within the art world, this piece acts as an interesting interface between the identities of the shifting traditions of the Middle Eastern market and the expanding global art market. Working with local craftsmen to create billboard canvases and gold plaques etched with phrases used regularly in the contemporary art world, Sarah also presents a dialogue between English and Arabic, and the use of language in commercial activities.

Sarah Strang lives and works in London. Recent site-specific collaborations have taken the form of live performance, video and billboard projects within institutions such as a West-End Church and a barrister’s chambers. A series of paper works exist as the after-life of each project.





Beth Derbyshire

Eric Franck Fine Art, London

Beth Derbyshire presents a site-specific work for Dubai of a projection of the word ‘together’ in English and Arabic. These words are designed to become ‘marks’ which constantly move. The two languages mesh in a regular sequence – the English moving from left to right and the Arabic from right, to left following their respective forms of reading. The unique structures of each language bring added depth to the philosophical meaning of the work. Together is a simple but resonant statement which celebrates the meeting of international communities.

Beth is developing a city-wide project for the Montreal Biennale later this year. This involves the infiltration of the term “En Masse” throughout the city – for example printed on to metro tickets which will in turn be collected and made into large signs that say “All together”. The term is to be translated into twelve different languages and these marks will be projected simultaneously onto the ceiling and walls of the main ticket halls in one of Montreal busiest stations, creating a symphony of light and language.

Based in the UK, Beth has worked on several projects in London and internationally. She exhibited work at the Sharjah Biennial 2005.


Nadim Karam

Atelier Hapsitus 

Nadim Karam’s latest project, Urban Toys is a way of expressing the diversity of life while reflecting on the specificity of peoples and contexts. Explaining the way we live our lives today, as citizens of the world – why certain things are important, how we think and organise ourselves. He has created an entire language of symbols, characters and forms which can interact both with man-made architectural structures and with nature.

Nadim Karam is from Beirut. He is an artist, architect and the principal of his workshop Atelier Hapsitus. Nadim has created large-scale temporary and permanent projects for various cities around the world, including London, Melbourne, Prague, Tokyo, and of course Beirut. Both through his art and independently, Nadim has taught at universities and lectured to diverse audiences. His book, Urban Toys has recently been published.


Mona Marzouk

The Third Line

Architecture has always had a rich vocabulary of its own. In the classical tradition through to the modern and contemporary, the articulation of architectural structures has been rich with meaning and significance. Mona Marzouk’s sculptures comment on this – their forms leading the viewer to consider different symbols, shapes and forms which we know, and yet they are not all obviously recognisable to us. Their open spaces and outlines all seem to be representative of some linguistic system that perhaps we do not fully understand, some being familiar, others not. They stand like chess pieces in the middle of a game. There is something fragile and almost human about the sculptures, and commentators have remarked on their similarity to studies by Leonardo De Vinci and Vitruvius connecting architectural forms to human anatomy.

Mona Marzouk is from Alexandria, Egypt. She studied fine art in Egypt, Germany and Greece and has exhibited her work internationally, in locations such as Kenya, Spain, Turkey and Cuba, in the 7th Havanna Biennial.


Emily Young 
The Fine Art Society, London

Since the early 1980s Emily Young has carved in stone. The sourcing and selection of her materials is of the utmost importance - every sculpture is made from a hand-picked and sometimes rare stone, chosen for its particular beauty and appropriateness to her project. She goes to great pains to use pieces that come straight from the ground, not cut to size in a mechanical way, but still carrying their natural surface textures, the forms and signs of their natural history, and of their creation in the rich physical history of the Earth. 

Emily Young is from the UK and has travelled widely. She has lived in the USA, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, France and Italy and spent time in Africa, South America and the Middle East. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in collections all over the world.

A large and beautifully printed book of recent work, published by Tacit Hill Editions, will be launched in Spring 2007.


Abderrazak Sahli

Galerie El Marsa, Tunis

An excavator of word and image, Sahli looks to script to create a visual language that allows for a multi- sensory experience and an imaginary world. Sahli's composition of steel reeds supports vibrant silhouettes of organic symbols such as birds, fish and flowers acts as homage to the natural world. He fashions his pieces with an ‘environmental alphabet’, bringing together diverse elements which react against each other. Displayed outside, their outlines create shadows and dance in the sunlight. When placed in a different habitat, his work acquires new meaning.

Abderrazak Sahli lives and works in Tunisia and is both a painter and sculptor. He studied the visual arts and engraving in Paris and for the past thirty-five years has been exhibiting his work across Tunisia and abroad. He is particularly well known in France, Spain, Italy Africa and the Arab world. 


Parviz Tanavoli

Composed of three letters in Persian, the single word ‘heech’ means ‘nothing’. It reflects feelings of unworthiness, frustration and ineffectiveness which haunt modern man. In the West, existentialist convention prods us to read ‘nothingness’ as a synonym for despair; but the heech in Tanavoli's work is a void filled by the artist's imagination, the ‘nothing’ that through his shaping hand becomes ‘something’.

Though the word itself suggests melancholy, Tanavoli's heech sculptures are joyful. Drawn to its resemblance to the human body, they stand, sit or recline as sensuously eloquent reminders of the plastic nature of Persian calligraphy.

Parviz Tanavoli, was born in Tehran in 1937, studied sculpture in Tehran and Milan and co-founded Saqqakhaneh, an artistic movement which began in 1960s Iran. He has exhibited in numerous museums and art galleries around the world and his works can be found in private collections and the permanent collections of major museums worldwide. Head of Sculpture at Tehran University until 1979 Tanavoli now lives and works between Vancouver, Canada and Tehran. 


Patricia Millns

Inspired by her studies of iconography and the early Islamic period, Patricia Millns' works use colour and numerical formulae to create a visual harmony for the spirit. The main inspirations for her work are sufi concepts and the complexity and repetition of imagery within Islamic architectural systems.

Her installation is a series of ghutras, the head covering used by men in Arabia, suspended in a numerical, floating structured grid. Taken out of their cultural identity and overlaid with messages in symbols and scripts, the uniformity and number of the ghutras create a linguistic unit that enable the participant to transcend a basic visual experience and attain a sense of spiritual calm. From the aesthetic external appearance to the deeper linguistic quality of the signs and messages, the work encourages participation of the viewer to enter, touch and become involved in the piece. It is an interactive installation that will be seen to its fullest advantage after dark.

For the past twenty-five years Patricia Millns has had a studio in the Middle East. She has shown internationally, having taken part in Biennales in Sharjah and Egypt and exhibited her work at the United Nations, New York and British Museum, London.



Keith Haring

Enrico Navarra Gallery, Paris & New York

Keith Haring’s work responds to the New York street culture of the 1980s. He studied graphic design in Pittsburgh, and once he arrived in New York was inspired by the graffiti art which was a growing trend throughout the city. He first attracted attention for his chalk drawings of figures in subways in New York, and he gradually began to work in a three-dimensional form, painting plastic, metal and found objects in bright colours. Especially following his early death in 1990, Keith Haring’s imagery has become a universally recognized visual language.

Giant sculptures by Keith Karing were exhibited in Saint-Tropez during the summer of 2006. During the past few years there have been several important retrospectives of his work, for example at the Trienniale in Milan, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney, both in New York. 


Sunil Gawde
Enrico Navarra Gallery, Paris & New York and Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

‘Blind Bulb etc’, Sunil Gawde's last solo exhibition in Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai in 2005, was a radical departure from his previously famed abstract painted canvases. Gawde has been fascinated by the relationship between images and objects, between natural materials and man made structures. Sunil finds inspiration in everyday objects, radically increasing their scale so their function becomes immaterial and the viewer is faced with something new.

The light bulb is often a symbol of knowledge or enlightenment, yet here by making the bulb a dense black this interpretation is inverted. The bulbs were initially commissioned for Saint-Tropez beach. Being placed outdoors in such a context makes the irony of the piece very clear, as the function of a light bulb is completely unnecessary as the light it produces can in no way compete with the light generated by the sun.

Sunil Gawde has exhibited his work widely across India and internationally, such as in London, Glasgow, Germany and Bangladesh. He lives and works in Mumbai.


Subodh Kerkar

Supported by Art India

Subodh Kerkar has always had a close, personal relationship with the sea. Since growing up as a boy in Goa, India, where he built sandcastles and collected shells, he learnt of its power as a teacher and inspiration for his art. He has created many installations on seashores across India and abroad, using materials such as mussel shells, broken boats and glass, working with sand and light.

For Dubai, Subodh Kerkar has been given the expanse of water on Jumeirah Beach to make a site-specific installation. The beach area looks out onto the Burj-al-Arab hotel and the Gulf peninsula.

Subodh Kerkar trained as a doctor and ran his own hospital for six years before deciding to concentrate his time on the visual arts. Since his time as a student he has been an avid illustrator and cartoonist working for local and international newspapers. For the last twenty years Subodh has been a full-time practising artist experimenting with different media. He lives and works in Goa and is the Founder and Director of the Kerkar Art Complex, Calangute, Goa, founded in 1992.




Lara Baladi 
The Townhouse Gallery, Cairo

Lara Baladi plays with the reproducible image in various media and formats. Her installation Roba Vecchia, The Wheel of Fortune presents viewers with fragments of the artist’s photographic work reconfigured into a shifting array of kaleidoscopic images. The piece echoes traditions of accumulating and reworking leftovers of the past in a continuous rewriting of history. The artist collaborated with a family member, who is a computer programmer, to create software that organises these images into a mutating pattern according to a function of random pre-programming. As a result, each visitor sees a different kaleidoscopic sequence and no one visitor sees the same arrangement twice.
Of Lebanese-Egyptian origin, Lara Baladi plays a major role in bringing Middle-Eastern art to the international art arena, through exhibiting her work across the globe, for example in Japan, Scandinavia and the USA. The work will be displayed as part of the Sharjah Biennial 2007.


Patrizio Travagli

Madonna # Fust Gallery, Bern

Warped Passages is the culmination of research by the artist into electromagnetic radiation, quantum wave lengths and the possibilities of light projection. It takes as its starting point the concept of there being eight colours which can work both together and uniquely in separate spaces, which can be quite some distance apart. It is an interactive installation, where visitors can experience different dimensions through the light display of which they become an integral part. A beam of light is by its nature circular and rounded, and thus the pods he uses to conduct the coloured light are of this shape.

Patrizio Travagli lives, works and studied in Florence, Italy. He has had many solo exhibitions in his home country as well as in Spain and Mexico.































































































Khaled Ben Slimane

Galerie El Marsa, Tunis

Raised in Nabeul, Tunisia, that Khaled Ben Slimane’s work delves into Tunisia’s multiple heritage ranging from Berber, Egyptian, Punic, Greek, Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Andalusian and European influences. Ben Slimane, a graduate of the Institut Technologique d'Art, d'Architecture et d'Urbanisme in Tunis, seeks to revive Tunisia’s faltering ceramic tradition and imbue it with his own personal touch. He adorns his pottery with scribbles, symbols and phrases, alluding to his understanding of Pakistani, Spanish and Japanese ceramic traditions as well as paying tribute to Allah through Sufi literature. 
Periods of study at the Ecole Massana in Barcelona, at the Museum of Arts in Japan and successive visits to countries with strong ceramic traditions contributed to his mastery of ceramic techniques and the creation of his distinctive, innovative and appealing style.
In 1990 Ben Slimane became the first Arab to be invited to join the Academie Internationale de la Céramique, headquartered in Geneva. His pieces are housed in collections and museums worldwide, including the British Museum, London.













Simon Hitchens

Crane Kalman, London

Simon Hitchens creates beautiful highly polished carved sculptures made from natural materials such as glass, resin and marble. He trained and worked in stone for ten years before moving to work with a variety of materials. He has shown in exhibitions throughout the UK and abroad and completed many public commissions. In addition to his own work, Simon has been Anish Kapoor’s chief stone carver for a decade, a clear indication of his talents at hand-production.

In the piece he has made for the DIFC Gulf Art Fair, the translucency and lightness of the glass is balanced by the weight and solidity of the marble below. These dualities are common themes of his work.

'My forms are concerned with magnetism, presence, a solemnity of character and simplicity of shape. I aim to create sculptures which refresh and uplift the spirit by appealing, through sight and touch, directly to our emotional understanding of the world.'








Conrad Shawcross

Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Conrad Shawcross creates structural, mechanical sculptures using everyday materials such as wood and light bulbs which question the empirical systems that rule our lives today. There is considerable experimentation in his work, he is often seeking to prove the instability of scientific formulae and philosophical reasoning that has been accepted truth for centuries. Conrad is influenced by many systems – in particular harmonic structures in musical theory.

The piece exhibited at the DIFC Gulf Art Fair is entitled Counterpoint 5:6 and is part of a series in which he has developed his ideas on mathematical and cosmological reasoning. The repetitive movement of the work, together with the lights, which when at high speed begin to merge and blur into continuous lines, together create a wonderful sense of drama and tension in the piece.

Conrad Shawcross has exhibited widely across the UK, creating works on commission for both solo shows and group exhibitions. Through Victoria Miro Gallery his sculptures have been seen internationally. 


Sophie Ernst
Supported by ASAL

Jannat - literally paradise - is a promise, a fantasy and in Sophie Ernst's work of the name a sinister invitation. She appropriates the kitsch scenery painted on rickshaws in Lahore (where she currently lives and works) and combines a soundtrack 
of twittering birds with a projected animation on larger than life roman letters spelling 'COME'. In exploring the idea of paradise and its visualisation in the popular imagination, Ernst also spells out its allure.

Sophie Ernst grew up in Holland and has lived and exhibited across Asia. In 2006 she was awarded the UNESCO Aschberg bursary. She currently lives and
teaches in Lahore, Pakistan.



















John Martin - Co-founder / Fair Director 
Benedict Floyd - Co-founder / Finance Director 
Savita Apte - Education and Patrons’ Director

Asmaa Al-Shabibi - Managing Director, Head of Dubai

Camilla Liverton - Director, Head of Asia 
Suzette Heydenreich - PR and Marketing Manager 

The event has the official support of the Dubai Government's Department of
Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). The DTCM has identified the Fair as a
priority event for 2007.