If you’re into art, you’ve likely spent hours in the Tate Modern or the Manchester Art Gallery.
But one place - away from the Uffizi or the Louvre - that is on a rapid fire upwards trajectory in the world of exhibitions, modern spectaculars and older classics? Abu Dhabi.
In recent years, it has become a hotbed for both old and new artistic talent, led by the thriving Abu Dhabi Art Fair, an annual international event that takes over Manarat Al Saadiyat for four days every November, as well as exciting plans for the city’s very own Guggenheim museum.
Here’s your essential art hit list for the UAE capital for this and next year.
Where to go: The New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery: a space attached to the UAE outpost of the prestigious university. The focus here is on curations and installations, as opposed to on collecting pieces.
What’s on? Ways of Seeing, curated by art curators and academics Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, is a multidisciplinary exhibition comprising painting, sculpture and photography. The idea is to showcase familiar objects - from shattered mirrors to knotted rope - in new, different ways, to make us understand how the narratives we tell ourselves can prevent us from seeing reality as it truly is. On until 5th January 2019, this is one to make time in the diary for.
Come the 26th February and the gallery’s spring exhibition, by Swiss Artist Zimoun, will open. Featuring five immersive audio-visual installations, it’s set to be an intriguing display.
How much? Free, Nyuad-artgallery.org, Monday to Saturday: 12 - 8pm
Where to go: Warehouse 421, a new cultural destination converted from old warehouses in the Mina Zayed port area of the city.
What to see: Hundred Best Arabic Posters 100/100. Take a look at the first stop of this travelling exhibition, which consists of a selection of posters that reflect the graphic design culture of the Arab region. Each poster is selected from a regional biannual competition, based on how well it celebrates the diversity of Arab visual work. Head over for a peek, as well as for the chance to take part in specialised talks and workshops about how arresting posters slot into the region’s wider artistic narrative.
How much? Free, visitabudhabi.ae, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 8pm
Where to go: Louvre Abu Dhabi
What to see: Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia. This exhibition, on until the 16th February, brings together artefacts from antiquity to the present day to tell the story of the earliest inhabitants of Saudi and the UAE, through to developments in the seventh century and the Arabic world in 2018. But you’ll want to head to this destination regardless of specific exhibitions - it’s a tranquil place to roam around.
How much? 60 AED, louvreabudhabi.ae, Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 10pm
Where to go: Etihad Modern Gallery, a hip exhibition space which hones in on work from contemporary artists local to the UAE.
What to see: Filled with a collection of paintings from emerging Emirati talent, this gallery operates an open door policy, every day from 10am to 10pm (apart from Fridays). Recent exhibitions include Rational vs Intuitive, which was designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Slovak Republic. For this, a collective of Slovak artists have produced work in a range of artistic mediums. They pertain to either a ‘rational’ theme – resulting in art that has been conceptually planned out by the artist – or an ‘intuitive’ theme, which lends the artist licence to create out of their own emotional impulses and visitors to interpret from their own instincts.
Right now, an exhibition of Emirati and Japanese artists’ work, titled UAExJapan, is giving visitors a unique look at
How much? Free, Saturday - Thursday, 10am - 10pm, etihadmodernart.com
Where to go: Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, a hotel known for its art exhibitions
What to see: Located close to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, this hotel is big on hosting smaller exhibitions. What’s on in 2019? No word, yet. But if the Year of Zayed Art Exhibition - which celebrated a year since the birth of UAE founder Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan through a collection of 25 paintings inspired by the city’s history and landmarks - is anything to go by, it’ll be great.
How much? Free, abudhabiculture.ae, every day, 8am - 11.30pm
Discover more of Abu Dhabi at our 360 experience: abudhabi360tour.com