'Abu Dhabi and Dubai are works of art'

And that is precisely one of the reasons why the first French Art Festival is being hosted in these cities, points out Francoise Malafose

By Layla Haroon (Contributor)

Published: Sat 1 Mar 2008, 11:16 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:22 PM

ABU DHABI is all set to chalk up another first in its art calendar with the inauguration of what is said to be the first ever art fair dedicated to the best of contemporary art produced in France.

Ranging from paintings and sculptures, to design artwork, tapestries and photographs, the exhibition, entitled, the French Art Festival, represents some 350 modern artwork pieces by thirty renowned French artists that reflect the diversity of contemporary French art.

Most of these highly celebrated artist like Christine Barres, Robert DiCredico, Pascal Magis, Brigitte Martinet, Giovanni Carosi, and Jean Louis Toutain have already earned handsome acclaim at home and abroad, and could well be the leading lights of tomorrow.

The paintings, sculptures and compositions of the participating artists are full of style, beauty and power.

Patrice Paoli, French Ambassador to the UAE, and Dominique Baudis, President of the Arab World Institute in Paris, will be present at the opening ceremony of the first French Art Festival on March 12th. The festival is held under the patronage of Shaikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Women Establishment and wife of Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs.

During the opening ceremony, an artwork painted on the spot by famed artist Robert DiCredico will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Emirates Foundation. The Dubai Autism Centre is the chosen benefactor for the auction that will take place during the Dubai opening ceremony.

Christine Barres, the famed French painter, will be holding a workshop for those who are interested in widening their artistic horizons.

Local guest artists Mohamed Kanoo, Wasel Safwan and Mohammed Mandi will also participate in the exhibition.

Manal Bin Amro and Nuha Hassan Asad are among the guest artists from Dubai who will be involved in the event.

City Times caught up with Francoise Malafose, the artistic director of Comevents (organisers of the event) to have some more insight on the event.

How do you read the significance of this event as a cultural bridge between UAE and France?

The exchange between cultures is the main objective behind the French Art Festival.

Contemporary art is an expression of the thousand and one beauties of the world. By exhibiting the contemporary creativity of the best living artists to a cosmopolitan and international audience in the Emirates, France is hoping to shares their culture creativity with the local artists here. After all, cultural awareness and multinational acceptance is present in budding cosmopolitan hubs.

How did the idea of conducting a French art festival in Abu Dhabi and Dubai come about?

It would be very hard to pick a more fitting venue than the most dynamic and cosmopolitan countries in the world dedicated to cultural expression and exchanges.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are works of art. The dizzying skyscrapers and light-steeped glass halls magnify the paintings and sculptures they house. Artistically speaking, the architecture here has reached heights of perfection that no other city in the world can match. So it is fair to talk about open art sharing and cross-fertilisation.

Emirates is in constant development; what is happening in the Emirates is unique in the world. It seems natural to me that the artistic dimension should also be present here. The vision of the emirate of Abu Dhabi seems to have been manifested. We include ourselves in this trend, or I would even say momentum, since I have the feeling that I am participating in something truly dynamic.

The spin-offs of such an event are innumerable and not all of them are quantifiable. There will of course be economic spin-offs, for the artists who open up to new markets, and for the companies taking part in this festival in different ways. But there will also be spin-offs in terms of knowledge and recognition. It boosts the discovery of new forms of expression and respect for cultures.

We are talking about art beyond borders, about a universal language… so it would be terrible to create boundaries where there are none!

Will the French Art Festival be an annual event?

Yes! The festival’s noble ambition is to bring individuals together through their shared interest in contemporary art. We have every intention of renewing and amplifying it every year.


EVENT: French Art Festival

PLACE & DATE: Abu Dhabi, March 12 at ADNEC

Dubai, March 2- 5, Mina A' Salam Ballroom, Madinat Jumeirah

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