Dubai, March 18, 2014 – Today sees the inauguration of the highly anticipated sixth Abraaj Group Art Prize exhibition, with all five artist winners and guest curator present for interviews.
The winners, Abbas Akhavan and Kamrooz Aram from Iran, Basim Magdy from Egypt, Bouchra Khalili from Morocco and Anup Mathew Thomas from India have been working closely with guest curator Nada Raza since June 2013 on their ambitious projects, which are drawn together in the exhibition Bagh O Bahar: Garden and Spring on show at Art Dubai from March 18 – 22, 2014.
Now in its sixth edition, The Abraaj Group Art Prize is globally unique in awarding talented artists on the basis of proposals rather than completed works. The number of artworks that have been created during the past six years form The Abraaj Group Art Collection which now boasts twenty-six works. Since its inception the prize has evolved considerably: past winners are increasingly in the spotlight and the artworks have been loaned to major international biennials, such as Sharjah Biennial, Kochi Muziris Biennial, The Biennale of Sydney; as well as global institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, Washington D.C.
The Abraaj Group is a leading investor operating in global growth markets. Frederic Sicre, Managing Director at The Abraaj Group said: “Empowering potential and creating long-term value is a theme that resonates strongly with us and is the premise upon which our business is built. The Abraaj Group Art Prize is a demonstration of our commitment to empowering exceptional artistic talent and fostering the growth of cultural entrepreneurs. As the Abraaj Group Art Prize turns six, we are delighted to bring five more artists into our network of winners. They join a community of 26 artists who are global ambassadors for arts in the region and continue to act as role models for a younger generation of artists”.
Savita Apte, Chair of The Abraaj Group Art Prize, adds: “Guest Curator Nada Raza has worked closely with the winners Abbas Akhavan, Kamrooz Aram, Bouchra Khalili, Basim Magdy and Anup Mathew Thomas to produce the exhibition Bagh O Bahar: Garden and Spring which teases out the common theme running through this year’s works whilst highlighting the diversity of each creative process. In addition, this year’s publication is a digital media experience which will annotate and animate the exhibition and features the writings of invited authors Nadeem Aslam, Githa Hariharan, Pankaj Mishra, Ruth Padel and Wiam El-Tamami.”
Guest Curator Nada Raza comments on the curatorial concept behind the exhibition: “The five winning artists presented in the 2014 edition of The Abraaj Group Art Prize were chosen on the basis of written proposals. Five literary authors were each invited to respond to a project proposal, by taking inspiration from the ground prepared by the artist. Now realised after an intensive period of research, travel and production, the completed works of art continue to demonstrate a commitment to the narrative genre, in which the environment of the garden presents itself both visually and thematically, allowing for a loose affinity, a momentary accord. The project extends beyond the physical space of the exhibition into a digital publication.”
Abbas Akhavan’s Study for a Hanging Garden is a floor-based sculptural work that looks towards the flora native to Iraq to dwell on the effects of time on power. Kamrooz Aram’s Ancient Through Modern: A Collection of Uncertain Objects, Part 1 is a wall installation that investigates the arbitrary value of cultural artifacts. Bouchra Khalili’s video Garden Conversation imagines an apocryphal conversation between twentieth-century heroes. Basim Magdy’s moving-image work The Dent invents a place that continues to build, even as it is destroyed. And Anup Mathew Thomas’ photographic series Nurses seeks out healers who have travelled away from Kerala toward new horizons.
More information about each of the works and the curatorial concept of the show is provided below. The digital publication is available on screens inside the exhibition, as well as online at gardenandspring.com
The Selection Committee for The Abraaj Group Art Prize comprises leading experts in the field of the visual arts including: Antonia Carver, Director, Art Dubai; Dana Farouki, Patron; Glenn Lowry, Director, the Museum of Modern Art; Salwa Mikdadi, art historian and curator; Jessica Morgan, Daskalopoulos Curator, International Art, Tate and Julia Peyton-Jones, Co-Director, The Serpentine Gallery, and Fayeeza Naqvi, Patron.