Sharjah24: Influential figures in the UAE art scene discussed the essential role cultural and art institutions play in supporting and achieving further development and rapid evolution of the arts ecosystem in the UAE and the Middle East, over the past two decades in particular.
This was highlighted during the first edition of the “New Dynamic of the Middle East Art Scene - Web In Art Series”, which kicked off with participations from Manal Ataya, Director General of the Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA), Dyala Nussiebeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art Fair and Vilma Jurkute, Executive Director of Al Serkal Avenue.
The panel was organised by The Art Circle, Founded in 2018 by Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet and was moderated by art collector, Vincent Larnicol to coincide with the MENA art fair taking place in Paris, France.
During her participation, Ataya described the historical nature of collecting in the Islamic tradition, up until present day.
She referred to patrons of arts of many empires including Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal and how it has been a long Islamic tradition of supporting artists to create and make beautiful objects from carpets, glassware to jewellery.
Ataya added that His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah is also a patron of the arts, and has always believed strongly in collecting works that are relevant to the history of the Islamic and Arab worlds, and their connections to the wider global context.
The importance of the Emirates’ different approaches to the art scene, was also highlighted by SMA director elaborating on how each Emirate’s approach although in some cases overlap, is still very distinct depending on their goals and audiences however collectively they compliment one another, and help enrich and empower UAE’s art ecosystem.
She said the UAE’s overall art scene has grown rapidly in the last 15 years with stronger government focus and investment in the arts and cultural fields.
“This has led to greater support for artists, an increase in the cultural production from this part of the region, and has positioned UAE on the cultural global map with numerous art exhibitions organised by SMA jointly with international institutions, the reputed Sharjah Biennial and Sharjah Art foundations extensive programming ,the art fairs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the UAE presence with it’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale including the more recent opening of the Louvre-AD Museum, have made a powerful impression regionally,” she said.
Ataya highlighted museums role in providing essential platforms for artists work to be shown and studied and the educational component necessary to engage the public of school children and families to nurture knowledge and appreciation of art and culture.
She also spoke of SMA’s efforts that are aimed at supporting art in the UAE, such as hosting the Emirates Fine Arts Society’s annual exhibition, and SMA’s well established Lasting Impressions Series that has been ongoing for over a decade, focusing on prominent Arab artists who had left a distinct mark in their practice in modern art, as other testaments to museums’ efforts in enriching and expanding the art scene.
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