As part of an ongoing commitment to bolster the region’s vibrant arts ecosystem, Louvre Abu Dhabi and luxury Swiss watchmaking brand Richard Mille today opened the third edition of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here exhibition, which will be on display until 18 February 2024.
Art Here 2023 features the seven sculptures and installations shortlisted for the 2023 Richard Mille Art Prize, with the works addressing this year’s theme of ‘Transparencies’, exploring the dynamics of transparency as well as its material and perceptual significance. Presented for the first time under the museum’s iconic dome, the exhibition delves into the interplay of shadows, liquid reflections, and flashes of permeating sunlight provided by this location.
Curated by independent art curator and advisor Maya El Khalil, Art Here 2023 spotlights the works of artists from across the region: Saudi curator and artist Alaa Tarabzouni, Kuwaiti multidisciplinary artist Farah Behbhani, Emirati painter Hashel Al Lamki, UAE-based Indian artist Nabla Yahya, Saudi visual and performance artist Sarah Brahim, UAE-based Syrian artist siblings Sawsan and Bahar Al Bahar, and Saudi visual and land artist Zahrah Al Ghamdi.
Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “We are thrilled to launch the third edition of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Art Here exhibition, which has been made possible with the support of our longstanding partner Richard Mille and invited curator Maya El Khalil. This initiative underlines our commitment to establish a platform for regional artists to showcase their artistic creations. The calibre of these artworks and diversity in artistic expression has truly impressed us and is a clear reflection of the immense talent in this region. We eagerly look forward to our visitors discovering the concept of transparency from multiple perspectives as they engage with this exhibition, which is taking place outside the galleries, under our dome.”
Peter Harrison, CEO, Richard Mille EMEA, commented: “We continue to proudly work with Louvre Abu Dhabi to showcase on a global scale a snapshot of the plethora of artistic talent that exists across the Middle East. Not only do these efforts support our Art Here finalists in their endeavour to pave the way for their contemporaries and future generations of artists, but also further enrich the art scene with a magnitude of rising talent from the Middle East. This year, we have met artists from across the GCC who show huge potential and are on the path to success. I am delighted that the Richard Mille Art Prize will play a part in their journey. I look forward to meeting the finalists of Art Here 2023 and to view their chosen works, which will be exhibited for the first time under Louvre Abu Dhabi’s iconic dome.”
Art Here 2023 Curator and jury member, Maya El Khalil, added: “It has been an honour to engage with the extraordinary Louvre Abu Dhabi space and a pleasure to see each artist respond in such sensitive yet distinctive ways. What has been most striking is that a seemingly direct open call inspired both revelatory material engagements and nuanced conceptual distortions. In their responses, transparency is both visual perception and cultural, historic force. Together, the works make clear the many structures through which we see, encounter, and experience the world.”
Each of the shortlisted artists presents a unique interpretation of the exhibition theme, bringing it to life through various mediums. Siblings Sawsan and Bahar Al Bahar present handblown glass sculptures made with and between craftspeople in Bab Sharqi, Damascus and Berlin for their work Waterdust, while Alaa Tarabzouni uses three stained-glass panels for Remember to Forget, depicting the streets and boundaries of Al Khuzama in Riyadh. Using biomaterial made of algae, Sarah Brahim’s Flesh Memory encapsulates breath, a profound yet unseen motion that connects all life across time. For Softbank, Nabla Yahya uses a three-dimensional cartographic representation of the 164 km Suez Canal, while Farah Behbehani’s Hiya (She) pays homage to the 10th-century Syrian Muslim astronomer with coloured glass, stainless steel, and sound. With twisted tree limbs, plastic waste, bones, and debris, Zahrah Al Ghamdi’s Anthropocene’s Toll: A Planet Asphyxiated thoughtfully prompts introspection and advocates for the rethinking of our relationship with the natural world. Hashel Al Lamki’s Foraminifera uses a painter’s expertise to investigate how multiple layers of fabric interact with natural pigments, exploring the material and cultural significance of pigments.
The finalists for the Richard Mille Art Prize were selected by a distinguished six-member jury, led by H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, an Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Chairman of UAE Unlimited, an art collector, and a patron of the Centre Pompidou, the British Museum and Sharjah Art Foundation. Joining him are Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Director of the Islamic Arts department at Musée du Louvre in France, and former Director for Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management at Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Maya El Khalil, independent curator and art advisor, former Founding Director of Athr Gallery in Jeddah, and curator of Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Here 2023.
The jury also includes Clare Lilley, Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the selector of the annual Frieze Sculpture in London’s Regent’s Park 2012-22 and a trustee of Art UK, London, the George Rickey Foundation, New York, and the Jupiter Artland Foundation, Edinburgh; Dr. Guilhem André, Acting Director for Scientific, Curatorial and Collections Management at Louvre Abu Dhabi, seasoned museum professional, expert archaeologist, and art historian; and Mohammed Kazem, a renowned Emirati artist previously shortlisted for the 2021 edition of Art Here.
The jury received over a hundred submissions from artists residing across the UAE and GCC, of which only seven artworks were shortlisted. The winner of the Richard Mille Art Prize will be named at a ceremony in early 2024 and awarded USD 60,000.
Press release from Louvre Abu Dhabi
Image: Nabla Yahya. SoftBank. 2023. Plywood, stainless steel, polypropylene, aluminium composite, travertine, silver leaf. Installation view of Art Here 2023 at Louvre Abu Dhabi, 2023. Image courtesy of Richard Mille