Menasart Fair set to boost region’s thriving art market


Menasart Fair is back this year from July 13 to 16 to present a broad and impressive panorama of artistic creations from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asian region.

Louvre museum Saadiyat IslandThis high-profile event is set to take place in Beirut, lead by art fair manager Laure d’Hauteville – who created Beirut’s first contemporary art fair, ArtSud in 1998, and organized the two Art Paris-Abu Dhabi fairs in 2007 and 2008.

The boutique style exclusive exhibition is an essential gathering place for collectors, artists and art professionals from across the world to meet and discover the best art – drawn from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

“With the rising interest of worldwide collectors and art connoisseurs in long-neglected art communities in the region, contemporary art has emerged as a success story in the international arena,” noted d’Hauteville, “There is a vital need for an international event that recognizes the growing demand for art and crystallizes the current change of direction in contemporary art market that registered an estimated sales turnover of more than $200m in the last three years.”

“Menasart aims to act as a springboard for emerging artists from the region, and serve as a platform for art enthusiasts and collectors around the world to discover and learn the contemporary artists of this area in a professional and cultural environment,” d’Hauteville added.

Pascal Odille, artistic director of Middle East and North African countries commended contemporary artists from the MENA region for their continuous efforts to go beyond the canvas and explore newer media, “Their art captures an entirely new section of the elite and the younger demographic, which drives the regional governments to provide a repository of global art and culture for their people and to position themselves as a world-class cultural destination.”

In pursuit of this aspiration, Abu Dhabi is developing Saadiyat Island as the ‘island of art’. Plans include an $800m Frank Gehry-designed branch of the Guggenheim 12 times the size of its New York flagship; a half-billion-dollar outpost of the Louvre by Jean Nouvel; the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, and a host of other cultural and artistic endeavors.

The first contemporary art museum in Bahrain, which was designed by architect Zaha Hadid, is expected to open in 2012. A museum of modern Arab art with a collection that spans the mid-19th-century to the present is set to open in Qatar in December. Alongside these projects, major exhibitions are being organized in the GCC and on the international art scene such as Nabatt “A Sense of Being” a contemporary art from Saudi Arabia or Edge of Arabia, thus giving the Saudi contemporary art an international visibility.

This dynamism is enhanced thanks to the establishment of international auction houses such as Christie’s, Bonhams, Sotheby’s and JAMM – the Kuwaiti auction house.

According to Laure, Lebanon still remains the most sought after destination for those passionate about the Middle East because of its history, identity, cultural past, people and tolerance.

“Beirut is the perfect location to host such a prestigious event as the city has always been and remains the preferred forum for dialogue among cultures, a melting pot where different intellectual currents converge and combine to create this cultural mosaic dear to the Lebanese,” she says.

This year, the fair is in search of the top contemporary art galleries in the region that are actively contributing to the art market. Selection criteria follow the most distinct standards in terms of uniqueness and proficiency. In addition to the high-profile events, galas and gatherings, Menasart fair is set to break new ground this year with its line-up of featured events to run alongside the exhibition that include: A fabulous exhibition of Contemporary Saudi Arabian Art Exhibition, NABATT – Sense of Being, curated by Reem Al Faisal & Lulwah Al Homoud, Video Box, Collectors’ Collections, and Monumental Sculpture and Installation in junk by Lebanese artists.

The Video Box will provide introduction into the world of this medium through a selection of twelve MENASA films. There will also be Menasart Fair Kids, a new area within the fair devoted to helping children learn about and play with art.

The fair will also host conferences for dealers, collectors and curators to address issues such as recent trends for contemporary art in South Asia and challenges for emerging Middle Eastern artists in light of globalization.

Last year, Menasart fair installed itself for the first time in Beirut over a period of two days attracting 3,500 visitors from around the world. “This summer, we are really looking forward to welcoming more than 10,000 visitors and a selection of 30/40 ME.NA.SA art galleries,” Laure concluded.

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