The just concluded 12th edition of the Dubai art fair, Art Dubai 2018, hosted 105 galleries from 48 countries making it the largest edition till date. In keeping with global trends, there was a rise in participation by African artists this year. The fair had 11 galleries from America, Europe and Africa representing multidisciplinary artists from Nigeria, Cameroon and Ethiopia including Nigerian artists Modupeola Fadugba and Victor Ekpuk, Ethiopian photographer Girma Berta and artist Wosene Worke Kosrof, and Moroccan artist Sara Ouhaddou.
The highlight of the fair, for me, were the works from the two African artists that participated in the inaugural edition of Residents, a new Art Dubai gallery program dedicated to solo presentations from invited galleries whose selected artists engaged in a 4-8 week residency. German-Ghanaian artist Zohra Opoku exhibiting with Seattle-based Mariane Ibrahim Gallery and Nigerian artist Victor Ehikhamenor with London’s Tyburn Gallery are two of the 11 selected artists from different countries, who immersed themselves in the local culture and developed art that merged their practice with their surroundings.
True to form, Victor Ehikhamenor’s paintings and installation referenced home, Nigeria. At the same time, he drew from the Dubai setting. Displaying images of the works on their website, Tyburn Gallery explains that “The works come together to highlight a kinship between different cultures, revealing the universality of human creativity.
Zohra Opoku continued with her apt series on the veiled women of the Muslim communities. In an earlier article by thestranger.com, Opoku talks about her curiosity when she sees a fully veiled person and her attempt to create different versions of herself in veil.