Reem Fadda, Associate Curator for Middle Eastern Art at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.


LONDON - I have always been struck by the elegance of UAE ladies and the quiet way they make their mark in public life. One such lady is Dr Lamees Hamdan whose presence is always a light in any company. On Oct 11, Dr Lamees and her team brought a presentation to the V & A to announce the UAE’s participation in the 55th Venice Biennale. Reem Fadda, Associate Curator for Middle Eastern Art at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, will be curating the solo presentation of artist Mohammed Kazem’s work at the UAE Pavilion – supported for the first time by The Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. HH Sheikha Salama a long-time key patron of the arts in the UAE and it comes as no surprise that her generosity is now extending to an international platform.

In an articulate presentation, Reem Fadda talked about the inspiration and processes behind Mohammed Kazem’s work, drawing comparisons and parallels with the work of Kazem’s mentor, Hassan Sharif. Both artists share a fascination with exploring materiality, and it will be interesting to watch what appears as the final selection at Venice next year.

Speaking of Hassan Sharif, I hope everyone saw the amazing work by this artist at Frieze Masters. There were a number of works by Middle Eastern artists scattered around the two Fairs, but my favourites included a beautiful, extraordinary blue tableau by Shirazeh Houshiary that was composed of the finest pencil work. Interestingly enough, a similar delicacy of pattern dominated the work of British-Pakistani artist Idriss Khan whose powerful ‘centrifugal calligraphy’ was first seen at the British Museum’s Hajj exhibition last spring. The Middle Eastern theme was also seen in an Orientalist image by Wolfgang Tillmans where the masterly composition played on many levels.

Looking back on a hectic Frieze week, which brought as always, encounters with many friends (ArtDubai’s Breakfast, right before the V & A event was an especially enjoyable occasion, packed with collectors, museum staff, art lovers) and much to think about. We were lucky to have both Rita Aoun of the Abu Dhabi Art Fair (opening Nov 6! Not to be missed) and Antonia Carver of ArtDubai in London during Frieze.