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Art’s in town

Art’s in town

Art Dubai begins today at the Madinat Jumeirah hotel. Kipp interviewed John Martin, co-founder and director of Art Dubai, and asked: Why Dubai?

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March 18, 2009 12:21 by



Kipp: Please explain what Art Dubai is.

John Martin: It’s an Art Fair. Essentially an art fair is a market place, a meeting place in a way, for art, galleries and all sorts of people who deal mainly with contemporary artists. People come from about 30 different countries to attend the fair. There are some very well named artists represented by very well named galleries, and then there are some young artists represented by younger newer galleries.

For collectors, the art fair is great, because you get to see everything under one roof rather than searching different cities for pieces. You can get the chance to meet the dealers, see the different artists, and sort of discover the artist, which for collectors is the most important thing.

If you go to an art fair, you won’t see exhibitions of a quality you might find in galleries, which are often large and more spacious. But you’ll see a lot of work. I think that’s why they become so interesting. Anyway, people have very little time now, so it’s the best way of learning a lot about contemporary art and, more importantly, about what you like.

Kipp: And do you think it could’ve been staged anywhere in the Middle East. Did the art fair have to take place in Dubai?

John Martin: I don’t think it could’ve taken place anywhere else. Dubai is an entrepreneurial city and I think the art fair and galleries are generally run by entrepreneurial people. And when I saw the location by the sea and the hotel (Madinat Jumeirah) I rather naively figured – although it was quite accurate -that because collectors like traveling, we would get collectors to come to the Middle East, attend a fair, and make a holiday out of it. It sounds silly, but it worked.

But also, I think the fact that there are so many galleries in Dubai helps. It has around 40 galleries. In fact, Dubai’s the only city in the Gulf that, I would say, has got that kind of an art scene. That’s something you can’t buy; it’s got to be made by the people.

Kipp: There’s been a lot of criticism about Dubai adopting its art scene from abroad rather than it being something that was organically grown here. Do you think that’s fair?

John Martin: No, not at all. As I said, the art scene in Dubai was created by the people. Dubai is a very cosmopolitan city, you know, a lot of people have found something in Dubai that suits them … I mean you wouldn’t make the same charges about people in the finance industry.

I think artists in Dubai are making the art scene for themselves. I don’t think anything is really imported.



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