Two Dubai-based galleries have confirmed that they've been accepted to participate in Art Basel in June, an event often referred to as the "Olympics of the art world".
Green Art Gallery and Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde (IVDE), both in the Al Serkal Avenue compound of galleries in Al Quoz, have been accepted to exhibit their works in the art fair's Statement section, which welcomes younger, emergent galleries to assemble a solo show of one of their artists.
This local participation represents the first time that a Dubai gallery has made it into the famously exclusive 43-year-old Swiss event.
"I think any gallery, wherever they are in the world, aspires to get into Art Basel at some point," said Yasmin Atassi, the director of Green Art Gallery. "Being the most important art fair in the world and the most sought after in term of selection, admission and quality brings an incredible recognition both to the gallery and the artists with whom we work."
While exhibitors from Beirut and Istanbul have participated before, this does represent a more solid Gulf interest from Basel. Galleries apply to exhibit in Art Basel via a stringent proposal-based application process, and Atassi says she will be taking works by Palestinian video artist Shadi Habib Allah to the fair. "Basel is very competitive and you need to present a project that really distinguishes you from the thousands of proposals they receive.
"It needs to be very international in scope. What sometime works here in the region will not work in Basel."
Gallery IVDE has opted for a focus on one of its biggest-hitting Iranian artists, Rokni Haerizadeh, who will present a new video work and selection of works on paper. "Both reflect on the 'spectacle of violence' seen in the media - the insatiable appetite of modern society for such images, a sort of new pop culture," said Tessa De Caters, director of IVDE.
"Art Basel stated in last year's catalogue that it is looking to reflect 'influences and impulses from every corner of the earth' and so the Middle East cannot be ignored," she said.
"The UAE has demonstrated an impressive vitality to develop its art scene and offer platforms for the artists of the region. As one of the first galleries of contemporary Middle Eastern art in Dubai, we are extremely pleased to be part of this major event, which serves as an annual barometer for the state of the international art world."
Art Basel has yet to release its full gallery list, usually out in the next month. Keep an eye on www.artbasel.com. The event runs from June 14 to 17.