ART REIGN IN BAHRAIN
WITH ARTBAB RINGING IN BD 2,29,000 IN SALES, THERE’S ENOUGH PROOF THAT ART RULES
With visitor figures climbing 25% and brisk sales that touched BD 2,29,000, Bahrain’s young and prestigious international art fair ArtBAB met with splashy success in its third edition this year.
Held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, it was inaugurated by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and First Deputy Premier, Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. “We are proud that not only were visitor figures so encouragingly high, but we also saw excellent sales,” said Fairs & Program director, Kaneka Subberwal.
“This year, ArtBAB 2018 hosted collections from 15 galleries around the world and 13 independent artists from 11 countries. Our ArtBAB Pavilion with its spotlight on Bahraini artists received enormous interest and many Bahraini artists also received enquiries from visiting collectors and galleries, so the chances of seeing Bahraini art on the walls of foreign galleries and collections
has grown considerably.” ArtBAB brought some legendary art to Bahrain for visitors to marvel at – including British artist Damien Hirst, whose solid silver skull titled Abacus – The Dream is Dead
(2007) was a big draw; American artist Jim Dine, whose painting Dogwood Spring drew many visitors posing for selfies (it cost BD 2,40,650); and Alan Davie’s Queen Emma priced at BD1,46,650. Thai artist Virut Panchabuse’s striking collage portraits attracted collectors – and the complete collection, costing BD 850 for each portrait, was sold by the end of the show. The focus of the ArtBAB initiative, this year, was to take Bahraini art to Europe and Russia. “We are serious when we say Art (of) Bahrain Across Borders,” Subberwal said.
“Bahrain has a rich heritage, but it is equally exciting in its interpretation of the present and future. Today, Bahraini artists are well-versed in the formal training processes of being artists – but they also bring a rare honesty to their work, which we believe will find them a niche in the world.”
Among the galleries that exhibited this year are Alon Zakaim Fine Art from the UK; Samara Art Gallery from Gujarat; Tsekh Art Gallery, Ukraine; Galerie Bruno Massa, USA; Italian artist collective Antonello Ghezzi; and many more.
Since ArtBAB started three years ago, it has showcased Bahraini artists to the world with the annual flagship exhibition in Bahrain as well as shows in prestigious venues – the V&A in London, the heritage Bikaner House in New Delhi, the India Art Fair in Delhi (again), along with a well-attended celebrity show in Mumbai.
This year’s fair also had a special Tribute Pavilion to two Bahraini masters, Rashid Al-Oraifi and Ghassan Muhsin, as well as a pavilion featuring 38 Bahraini artists and six emerging first-time artists. The spotlight on Bahraini artists showcased over 100 works of art. A Special Projects section featured five projects comprising photography, graffiti work, an installation, a peace building project and a collaboration of art by three Indian artists bridging the boundaries between India and Bahrain. ArtBAB built its popular Conversations@ArtBAB around the theme of education this year and included talks by artists, collectors and consultants who shared knowledge on trends and on art itself. There was also the first-ever Kids@ ArtBAB workshop that focused on developing junior artists and guiding art appreciation among teens and children, and a popular merchandising section and bookstore to purchase art books and souvenirs of wearable art, stationery, etc.