In the fiercely competitive world of art fairs, the pioneering Art Bahrain Across Borders (ArtBAB) emerged in 2016 and is already brushing up for a third edition in March this year. Held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, an artist herself, this young but resolute contemporary art event is becoming increasingly global both in terms of curatorial selection and exhibitor list. “We look forward to the third instalment of ArtBAB growing and continuing to be the catalyst for developing creative talent and the art economy within the region and beyond,” said Fair and Programme Director Kaneka Subberwal.
Curated by Jonathan Watkins and Alistair Hicks, ArtBAB aims at pivoting galleries, artists and collectors towards the Kingdom, establishing a more pronounced connection between Bahraini art and the global art market. “ArtBAB is a platform that connects international galleries with established and emerging artists of Bahrain, widening the outreach to collectors in the region,” stated Subberwal.
The fair is also riding the wave of its position as a cultural pioneer in the region, with art an inherent part of its existence. “The last 150 years have seen the global art world become more and more centralised, yet the product, the actual art being produced around the world is getting richer and more diverse,” said Hicks. “This will undoubtedly be reflected in tomorrow’s marketplace and offers great opportunities.”
ArtBAB 2018 will take place just days before Art Dubai, the Emirate’s vigorous four-day fair, with a selection of local, regional and international artworks. Supplementary programmes will include Talks@ArtBAB, a public education programme featuring artists, collectors, curators, gallerists and art enthusiasts, all addressing the idea of increasing creative synergy within the region and on a global level. The next edition will also see an extension of the ArtBAB 2017 VIP programme, which drew collectors from around the world.
Mariam Fakhro. A Beautiful Time 1. 2016. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas. 120x120cm.
Last year, ArtBAB saw 60 participants from Bahrain, the UAE, India, Ukraine, France, the USA and others across its three categories: Gallery arena boasting a cluster of international galleries, the ArtBAB Pavilion Artists (with free entry for Bahraini artists), and General Entry Artists. The stellar line-up included New York-based artist Bradley Theodore, known for his paintings Queen Elizabeth and Pyramid, and a piece by Turner Prize-winning English artist Keith Tyson.
ArtBAB 2018 will also see the return of the not-for-profit exhibition space that featured the Floating World exhibition this year with 32 large-scale installations screening films by a great number of international artists. “Floating World made ArtBAB 2017 unique,” shared Watkins. “It was a not-for-profit factor in the art fair equation, ambitious in its range of moving imagery by some of the most important international artists working today, with strong visual appeal. A kind of landscape lounge, it was an environment for all visitors to enjoy.”
ArtBAB headed to London past December for the annual Bahrain Art Week as part of its International Artist Programme. The idea was to celebrate Bahrain’s rich cultural production with a group exhibition featuring 14 contemporary artists at Saatchi Gallery in the UK capital. A critical arm of ArtBAB, the International Artist Programme organised a visit for artists to Delhi last September and planned a visit to Mumbai the following month, with a trip to Moscow scheduled for May 2018. In 2016, the programme hosted an exhibition at London’s Lancaster House at the occasion of Bahrain National Day, with the show continuing alongside a panel discussion at Asia House.
Among the artists who presented their works were Amani Al Hajeri, Lulwa Al Khalifa, Mohammed Al Mahdi, Sarah Aradi, Seema Baqi and Zain Issa Al Kuheji. Dated 6 to 12 December with a private viewing the first day, the event was sandwiched between London Art Week (1 to 8 December) and Art Basel Miami Beach (7 to 10 December), but held its own with an assortment of arts and culture events across the city. Also on agenda were panel discussions and workshops, where featured artists shared their experiences.
ArtBAB 2018 will take place from 14 to 18 March 2018 at the International Exhibition and Convention Centre in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Artbab.com