Sunny Rahbar and The Third Line gallery consistently curate elegant art fair spaces here and internationally and this year they have a strong local program. With an incredible roster of talent, they have played on the world stage, for over a decade. Wrapping up the participation in Frieze last year (both in London and NYC) and at Art Basel in Switzerland, they are getting ready to showcase their artists back on home turf.
What are you looking forward to at this year’s Art Dubai fair?
As always I look forward to re-connecting with curators and collectors flying in from all over the world to attend the fair, meet our artists and catch up on their latest projects.
What are we to expect with your booth back here?
This year we’re excited about our group presentation themed around the written word, used by many of our artists in their work, sometimes literally, at other times in a more conceptual way. We will be showing works by Fouad Elkoury, Farah Al Qasimi, Farhad Moshiri and Shirin Aliabadi, Huda Lutfi, Hayv Kahraman, Slavs and Tatars, Youssef Nabil and Zineb Sedira. The idea is to illustrate the visual power of language in its varied manipulations.
You represent a lot of artists recognizable by their first names only — many of them well known Arab women, Zineb, Huda, Lamya, Sara, Hayv, Arwa, Farah, Sophia, Joana (…and Khalil !)
The Middle East, and the MENASA region, in general, has had a strong history of women artists. They are becoming much more known now because of the many platforms that give their work a place to be showcased—museums, international galleries, fairs, and museums. Representing these talented women is something we are very proud to be doing at The Third Line.
How do you detect talent and what are the traits that you look out for that makes you want to represent an artist?
There are no strict criteria per se – to how we decide to work with an artist. The gallery/artist relationship is based on trust and mutual respect between the artist and the gallery and may arise out of conversations, studio visits or chance encounters.
For me, personally good art speaks the truth, the truth of the artist. And in their own unique language that they have developed over time. When I see these elements in an artists work that’s when I take an interest and go from there.
What was it like in Al Quoz, 10 years ago, before the expansion into the art district there?
My partners and I considered it a serious enough foundation to consider opening The Third Line more than a decade ago, and I still stand by it. Back then, it was lacking structure and visibility but had all the right ingredients. Now it is a world of its own, with all kinds of players strengthening it in their respective areas. Dubai provides a meeting ground for artists, curators, thinkers, and other creative makers from across the world, and more specifically the MENASA region. With more and more people coming in, there is diversity in content – and there is only room to grow.
Art Dubai itself keeps growing and developing, what changes or developments have you seen at the art fair?
Art Dubai gives galleries like The Third Line and the artists we represent a space to share and demonstrate the dynamism and progressive spirit of the city’s artistic and cultural scene. Over the years, it helped encourage a change in perception and fuel curiosity about the arts. Art Dubai is helping inject crucial international interest through visiting collectors, curators, museums, artists, writers and so much more.