Art Dubai Modern 2023


Art Dubai is the Middle East’s leading international art fair, taking place every March in Dubai, UAE. Over the past 16 years, Art Dubai has cemented its role in being a major catalyst in the local, regional and international conversations on art from the Middle East and surrounding region (MENASA – Middle East, North Africa & South Asia), and putting art from these territories onto the global map.

Art Dubai Modern is a one-of-a-kind platform, focusing on Modern art from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The section focuses on solo shows dedicated to a particular period or thematic dialogue and features artists working between the 1950s and 1990s whose works are retrospectively playing a key role in today’s artistic landscape. Art Dubai Modern 2023 is co-curated by Mouna Mekouar, art critic, curator and art historian, and Lorenzo Giusti, curator and Director of GAMeC, Bergamo (Italy).



That of ‘modernity’ is a semantic field as dense as it is fluid, a polysemic concept identifiable with a multiplicity of cultural, political and economic phenomena: from the development of science and technology to the democratization of politics, from urbanization to industry, from globalization to the centrality of the individual. 

The global issues that have emerged in recent decades have made it clear that, along with the great opportunities, the push towards modernity in the 20th century has also opened the field to a series of new social, political and environmental problems that today invite us to reconsider some of its founding values according to new paradigms.

Applied to art, the concept of modernity presents the same semantic complexity and the parallel need for rethinking according to new linguistic and geopolitical perspectives. It is with this awareness and will that we have approached the selection of artists for the Modern section of Art Dubai 2023, focusing in particular on the countries of the Middle East and South Asia, with the idea of paying homage to the multiple and variegated community now inhabiting and working in the Emirates.

The exceptional richness and cultural diversity of this vast territory – from Iran to Lebanon, from Syria to Palestine, from India to Pakistan – has found expression in this year section, which presents stands by authors active between the 1960s and the 1990s, observed through the point of view of today’s art. The section therefore focuses on some pioneers of contemporary art, more or less known to the general public, whose works are retrospectively playing a key role in today’s art and, by extension, in modern art history.



1 – Third Line Gallery (Dubai)Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (Qazvin, Iran 1922- Tehran, Iran 2019)

2-3 – Mark Hachem Gallery (Paris) – Helen El-Khal (Allentown-Pennsylvania, USA 1923 – Ajaltoun, Lebanon 2009) – Hussein Madi (Chebaa, Lebanon 1938)

4 – October Gallery (London) – James Barnor (Accra, Ghana 1929)

5 – Andree Sfeir-Semler Gallery (Beirut – Hamburg) – Marwan (Damascus, Syria 1934 – Berlin, Germany 2016) 

6 – DAG Gallery (New Delhi)  – Natvar Bhavsar (Gothava-Gujarat, India 1934)

7 – Aicon Gallery (New York)Rasheed Araeen (Karachi, Pakistan 1935)

8 – Gallery One (Ramallah)  – Samir Salameh (Safad, Palestine 1943- Le Grand Lucé, France 2018)

9 – Lawrie Shabibi Gallery (Dubai) – Mona Saudi (Amman, Jordan 1945 – Beirut, Lebabon 1922)

10 – Agial Art Gallery (Beirut) – Nazir Ismail (Damascus, Syria 1948 – Damascus, Syria 2016)



Mouna Mekouar and Lorenzo Giusti imagine a series of stimulating talks, lectures and round table discussions to provide an overview of modern art in the territories of North Africa, Middle East and South Asia by considering the question of art training, production, and reception of works. Looking critically at the history and historiography of mid-20th-century abstraction, the conversations rethink art-historical canons and expand the discourse around global modernisms. How can we write a narrative which focuses on the connections and interconnections between people and cities from Casablanca to Beirut, from Damascus to Lahore and New Delhi ? How do we approach and include in today’s museums modern art through the prism of the 21st century ?

Participants include curators and artists from the art fair and members from leading UAE’s art institutions alongside other renowned art professionals.


March 2nd

Dr. Nada Shabout, Salwa Mikdadi, Ridha Moumni
By critically reviewing the history of pictorial abstraction around the middle of the 20th century, the conversation intends to reflect on the canons of artistic modernity, creating a bridge between past and present and reconsidering the theme of figuration in the light of experiences in the MENASA countries.


March 3rd

Karina El Helou, Nathalie Bondil, Nada Shabout, Devika Singh, Ridha Moumni
The conversation aims to reflect on possible ways to include and present modern art from MENASA countries in international museums and how to preserve the region’s heritage in the light of global market interest.


March 4th,

Andrée Sfeir-Semler, Rafia Koudmani, Azza Munif, Hala Khayat
Pioneering artist MARWAN Kassab Bachi left his mark on the contemporary art scene, with his work celebrated in both Eastern and Western contexts. He influenced an entire generation of young artists, and this panel will shed light on a lifetime of stories, friendships, inspirations, and the rich body of work that makes up his legacy.



Art Dubai, Dubai, UAE

Marzo 2023