Abu Dhabi Art exhibits the creations of Emirati artists in London

Maya El Khalil and Afra Al Suwaidi.

Mohammad Yusuf, Feature Writer

This is Abu Dhabi Art’s first time exhibiting overseas where it showcases the works of three emerging artists, all from the United Arab Emirates, in the Beyond: Emerging Artists presentation at Cromwell Place, London (June 2 – 13) .

Organized by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the artists whose works are featured are Hind Mezaina, Afra Al Dhaheri and Afra Al Suwaidi, and the curator is Maya El Khalil.


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Mezaina was born and works in Dubai. Her work explores themes of collective memory, the notion of heritage and the representation of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates in the media. It is an ongoing development of what she describes as “visual archaeology” through research, observation, collecting and preserving memories.

Working primarily in photography, and more recently in video and collage, her projects have been featured in numerous exhibitions in the UAE and abroad, including “Made in Tashkeel” (Tashkeel, 2018); Sharjah Biennial 13: Tamawuj (2017) and “Al Haraka Baraka: In Movement There Is Blessing” (Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, 2016).

emirate creation 1 Afra Al Dhaheri.

She has also worked on various commissioned projects, including “The Wedding Project” (Art Dubai, 2016); ‘Waiting’ (Global Art Forum, Art Dubai, 2014); ‘Cassette Project’ (Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp, Dubai, 2013) and ‘Mass Medium: Emirati TV on Home Video’, (Global Art Forum, Art Dubai, 2012).

Mezaina organizes film screenings for Louvre Abu Dhabi, is the founder of The Culturist blog and co-founder of the Tea with Culture podcast. She participated in the Fall 2016 program residency at the Delfina Foundation, supported by the Maraya Art Center.

She graduated from the Salama Emerging Artist Fellowship (SEAF) 2015-2016 and was selected for AiR Dubai 2015, a partnership between Delfina Foundation, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and Tashkeel. Al Dhaheri was born in Abu Dhabi and works there. Her work is rooted in her experiences growing up in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates – a place of recent and rapid change. Working on various mediums, including mixed media, sculpture, drawing, painting, installation, photography and engraving, she brings out notions of time and adaptation, rigor and fragility.

emirates creation 3 Hind Mezaina.

She earned her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design, USA, and has completed residencies with The Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artists Fellowship, in partnership with Rhode Island School of Design in 2014 and Porthmeor Studios, St. Ives, Cornwall, UK (2019). His first solo exhibition “Inevitable Ephemera” was organized by T+H Gallery in Boston, USA in 2016. Selected group exhibitions include “Avoid Bad Dreams”, Green Art Gallery, Dubai, United Arab Emirates ( 2019); “Barcelona to Abu Dhabi”, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2018) and “Emirati Expressions”, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, UAE (2011 and 2015). She works as an Assistant Professor in Visual Arts at Zayed University Abu Dhabi.

Al Suwaidi was born in Abu Dhabi and works there. She majored in Fine Art and earned a BA from Zayed University and has performed in a number of local and international shows. In 2015, she participated in an exhibition at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center in New York and the annual Lessedra World Art Print exhibition in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 2017, she participated in Imago Mundi in Treviso, Italy. Locally, she presented her work at the Alliance Française Abu Dhabi art exhibition and at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi: Do Art Do It Now, Manarat Al Saadiyat, in 2017.

Most recently, she participated in the 35th Annual Emirates Fine Arts Society Exhibition in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Al Suwaidi is currently attending the Cultural Foundation Art Residency 2020. El Khalil was born in Beirut, currently lives in Oxford, UK. She is an independent curator who for a decade has worked with artists, collectors and institutions locally, regionally and internationally to develop the identity and ideas that have defined the contemporary art scene in Saudi Arabia.

From its inception in 2009 until 2016, she was the founding director of Athr, a leading contemporary art gallery based in Jeddah. She is curator of the 7th edition of 21.39 Jeddah Arts. El Khalil holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the American University of Beirut. She is currently enrolled in an MA program in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths University.

Dyala Nusseibeh, Director of Abu Dhabi Art, said “our exhibition at Cromwell Place provides us with a vital connection to our network in the UK and kicks off a year of adaptation and growth for us as a fair”. Cromwell Place is a one-of-a-kind exhibition and workspace for art professionals. Created to meet the changing demands of the industry, the membership organization offers flexible services including exhibit space, showrooms, art storage, material handling, work facilities , events and a club room.

Located in the heart of London’s Museum Quarter, its terrace of Victorian townhouses is home to more than fifty of the world’s greatest galleries, institutions, dealers and advisers. Abu Dhabi Art goes beyond the notion of a traditional art fair, with a strong focus on a diverse program of audience engagement, including art installations and exhibitions, lectures and events taking place in different locations throughout the year. The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi manages the emirate’s tourism sector and its policies, plans and programs relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including the protection of archaeological and historical sites and the development of museums , including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim. Abu Dhabi.

William E. Bennett