Sneak Peek: Omar Kholeif On Abu Dhabi Art

BY Katrina Kufer / Aug 7 2017 / 11:41 AM

Dr Omar Kholeif shares which elements most excite him from his curated Focus: Beyond Territory section, a special segment of the Galleries hall where the UAE public will be introduced to seminal cross-generational artists and projects in the region for the first time.

Sneak Peek: Omar Kholeif On Abu Dhabi Art
Photography by Maria Ponce © MCA Chicago

Dr Omar Kholeif
Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives, MCA Chicago

HBA: How would you like to see ADA evolve this year and in the future?
OK: I am excited to see it evolving more curatorial platforms and with it more diverse and broad audiences, something which I am hoping this edition will bring with the new changes that have been brought forward by Dyala, the fair's new director.

HBA: In what ways, in your experience, has the UAE public evolved in relation to ADA?
OK: I think that people are taking the fair more seriously as a curatorial platform, and that to me is very exciting.

HBA: How do you keep your curatorial inspiration and approach fresh?
OK: Art pretty much consumes the entirety of my life. I see dozens of exhibitions a week, I do regular studio visits with contemporary artists, I visit archives, I read, and I travel to see biennials, big and small to continue to invigorate and challenge my current knowledge base. All of this comes back and feeds in subtly into the work that I do.

HBA: What are you bringing to ADA this year?
OK: I am curating a platform called Focus: Beyond Territory, which focuses on bringing key historic and emerging figures from around the world to Abu Dhabi Art for the first time, and in many cases to the UAE for the first time. All of the artists in this curated section explore the concept of landscape and indeed territory in the broadest sense -formally, socially and politically.

HBA: How is ADA this year in dialogue with global contemporary art trends and developments?
OK: I think that ADA this year is looking to become more global in its reach in terms of media and mediums, which will make it an ever more interesting platform for modern and contemporary art.

HBA: Are there any special insights you can provide us?
OK: I am particularly excited to be welcoming Spruth Magers gallery to the region for the first time with a beautifully curated solo booth by Otto Pienne. I am also thrilled that Marian Goodman Gallery will be bringing a beautiful presentation of Giuseppe Pennone's work. Beyond that, I am also excited that Jhaveri Contemporary will be showcasing an incredible project, a collaboration between Indian artist Nalani Malani and Pakistani artist, Iftikhar Dadi, which is so pertinent at this moment in time!

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