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Published: March 15th 2009
SAADIYAT ISLAND: GUGGENHEIM ABU DHABI
(Probably of interest to artists....)
Saadiyat Island is another island being developed from scratch out of the desert islands of Abu Dhabi...This one is to be The Cultural District Island..with The Louvre, & The Guggenheim (Frank Gerry) along side other museums & performing atrs centres being built. It is due for completion in 2013
At present Abu Dhabi does not seem to have a cultural/art scene of its own in a big way,..it is only just in the early days of beginning. This is frustrating as a visiting professional artist, with only a couple of galleries, semingly no studios, no art school & not a decent art supply shop, some materials are available, but mostly of a hobby nature.
I dont see much evidence of an "art scene", galleries, studios, collectors, a public interested & involved in the visual arts. Altough I am sure there are artists about but there does not seem to be much visible support or network in Abu Dhabi.
But I am told it will all be developed in time. Especially in time for the Saadiyat Island venture when it is complete in 2013. To nurture this
art engaged public, there is a series of art talks being held over several months to engage & introduce the public to the art & art institutions that will be arriving eventually.
This is actually a fantastic series of art talks & presentations, which contrasts to the lack of current dialogue & art scene here in AD.
So, being held at the lavish Emirates Palace, in their gallery, is the series "Talking Art."
It started with 3 nights on The Royal Academy, London. The London guys rolled into town, with Dr Charles Smith, (secretary & chief exec. RA), Humphrey Ocean, UK artist, who was great, very relaxed & genuine giving a great slide show of his work. Along with YBA's Garry Hume & Loiuse Wilson. Local artists Jalal Luqman & Ebtisam Abdul Aziz also contributed with their slide shows & discussions on how the local Emirate artists would be involved in the establishing of these international galleries here.
The Guggenheim series followed with 4 nights of presentations & discussions.
This was an amazing opportunity to see & hear some of the art worlds biggest names.
Anselm Kieffer, Jeff Koons & Anish Kapoor, & James
Turrell being amongst the artists giving us slide talks on their work & panel discussion including Sir Norman Rosenthal (former director Royal Academy), Germano Celant (artistic director Prada Foundation) Prof Mark Taylor (Columbia uni) amongst others.
Mona Hatoum (Palestein)also presented & Rokni Haerizadeh (Tehran), who was eespecially interesting to understand how difficult it is to practice as an artist in Iran.
Anselm Kieffer was amazing. Already well aware of his stature as a great artist, it was a privellege to hear him candidly talking about his work , with a great sense of humour, and honesty in his discussion. The amount of work being produced out of his 49 buildings studio complex(!!!!) (you have to see it to believe it), in France, was mind boggling. I was further in awe when I met him afterwards & he explained how hard he works with only 2 assistants doing manual lugging of work around, with himself doing all the artwork/painting.
It was an honour to meet him and very enaging to hear him speaking of the influence of nature in his work; the job of the artist to convert our imagainations into a shared reality; finding beauty in the
most humble of things; paintings giving us an image into a spritual world; works evocative of lost & vanished worlds........
Jeff Koons was surprisingly honest & genuine in his desriptions of his ideas behind his work & it was very enlightening, hearing him talk of his desire to engage his internal world with that of the outer world, & to engage with the public.
Jeff Koons spoke of : wanting to have a dialogue outside of himself, looking for the external: looking to popular culture. For the viewer to let themselves go & look into the abstract when viewing artwork; the use of reflective materials to bring the viewer into the piece; to trust yourself, follow your interests, to find the metaphysical: to find art; works taking you to a place of "wonder"....
Anish Kapoor was inspiring to say the least, an artist who has earnt a lot of respect for the work he is producing & ideals he is following.
Showing an extensive body of work, he spoke of:
Ritual & Process in his work, how it comes to be in the world, his pigment works made by hand, but no trace of the
hands involvement; the implied fragility in his work; sense of scale; the unavailable object, what's there/not there..then to excavating the object.
The importance of the studio & to go where you have to go with your work in the studio process; on the edge of something you think you know, but on the edge of what you dont know; looking for the sublime in work; sense of vertigo of the sublime: leaping out into the void; presence & absence; the space in all of us/ the space reflected in nature; exploring spaces/voids/the world turning itself inside out; the ritual acts in making the work';
Artwork that has an "enduring presence": to hold onto that "otherness": being great art; notion that "landscape is to be listened to" Art as a way of life, like religion & doing both all your life.
Anyway, on & on it went, & extremely interesting for those who are aligned with this sort of thing!
Okay..so see photos attached of the artists & their work from this Talking Art series.
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