5 Questions with Pablo del Val, Artistic Director of Art Dubai (Interview)

Feb 17, 2020

For the last 5 years, Pablo del Val has been leading Art Dubai’s artistic direction, and works to develop and bolster relationships with galleries, artists and curators around the globe. His directorship at Art Dubai further cements the fair’s commitment to cultivating a culture of discovery, education and thought leadership. Find out why Art Dubai is major catalyst in the activation of art and culture from the MENASA region.

As Art Dubai’s Artistic Director, what's involved in bringing this event to fruition?
Planning and preparing for the fair is a year-round process. Much of the process includes cultivating and developing relationships with art galleries and ironing out details to ensure they get the best of their experience at the fair. This entire process begins with these conversations and eventually translates into galleries presenting at the fair, and this happens over years. The process also involves assisting and advising galleries in what might do best at the fair and will be well-received in our market.

When it comes to the actual design of the art fair, we work to ensure that the gallery halls are placed in a meaningful and inter-connected way so visitors have a more seamless experience when walking through the fair. It is a matter of fostering an atmosphere of trust; building trust with the galleries as well as the collectors. It’s maintaining a balance between helping the galleries in what to bring but also helping the collectors get what they are looking for.

How is Art Dubai helping put the UAE and the surrounding Gulf region on the global map? Are there particular showcases for emerging artists coming out of the Gulf region?
Over the past 14 years, Art Dubai has cemented its role as a major catalyst in the activation of art and culture from the MENASA region. The fair’s international scope is uniquely positioned to offer exciting new global perspectives and broaden conversations about art from diverse geographies across what is known as “The Global South”. Very much like its host city, Art Dubai brings together and represents a divergent scope of art for an international audience.

Key features of the extended Art Dubai programming are initiatives focused solely on recognising and providing emerging artists with a platform, further broadening conversations in the region. The year-round residency programme, Campus Art Dubai works with UAE-based artists to create works around a given theme, unveiled as a group show at the fair.

The curated segment Gulf Now also provides a space for impressive artist-run collectives to showcase their projects. Curated by UAE-based curator Munira Al Sayegh, these platforms serve as a lens to explore the breadth and diversity of creativity happening in the region on a non-commercial scale, with representations from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Also part of the programme and held in collaboration with King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture, The Ithra Art Prize is awarded to emerging Saudi and Saudi-based talents to create pieces of work. The winner of the third iteration, Fahad bin Naif, will unveil his proposed commission Rakhm at Art Dubai 2020, before it becomes part of the Ithra permanent collection.

2Lawrie Shabibi (Dubai), Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai 2019, Courtesy of Photo Solutions

What makes Art Dubai truly a global event?
Art Dubai is one of the leading international art fairs because it plays an essential role as a meeting point for an entire region — that not only includes the Middle East but also the entire Global South. At Art Dubai, galleries find the possibility of exhibiting and getting in touch with collectors and institutions from geographies that, generally, doesn’t happen in the main western centers. Dubai is the window to new markets and encourages a world of discovery. Due to its size, the fair allows for meaningful conversations and quality time. It’s a platform for participating galleries to achieve their goals in many different ways.

We have 7 international guest curators from India, France, Germany, USA, Africa, Greece and the UAE working across the different sections of the programme. This further brings fresh new perspectives and shows the scope of diversity that Art Dubai has to offer.

5-Questions-with-Pablo-del-Val,-Artistic-Director-of-Art-Dubai-3Jerry B. Martin (Colombia) Represented by Galeria Revolver (Lima , Buenos Aires), Art Dubai Residents, Art Dubai 2019, Courtesy of Photo Solut

Education, mentorship and thought leadership have a large focus at Art Dubai. What can we expect at this year’s fair?
An essential part of Art Dubai’s mission extends to cultivating an ecosystem of not only art, but also education, mentorship and thought leadership, through programmes such as the celebrated transdisciplinary conference The Global Art Forum, which returns for its 14th edition under the title “Do you Story?”; Modern Talks, focused on narratives around Modernist Masters from the MENASA, and the unique mentorship platform Campus Art Dubai.

Through one-of-a-kind professional platforms such as the International Curators Programme, we aim to foster cross-continental dialogue and exchange, enhancing the international curatorial landscape.

If a fairgoer is visiting Art Dubai for the first time, what tips can you offer on how best to navigate the art fair?
The beauty of Art Dubai is that there is something for everyone. Since the activations and gallery halls are spread across the Madinat Jumeirah conference center and Mina Salam, we offer all visitors a complimentary fair map and fair guide that lists the schedule for the week and details on the different activations throughout. Whilst Gallery Hall 1 and 2 focus on contemporary and modern works, Gallery Hall 3 (Mina Salam) will focus on grassroots platforms and work produced specifically for the fair by our Campus Art Dubai and Residents artists.

Learn more about and register for Art Dubai here!