Where to find the best art galleries in Dubai
A trip to an art gallery can be informative, enlightening and sometimes challenging. But which ones should you visit in the emirate? Here’s your guide to 10 of the best…
The lowdown: XVA is Dubai’s only art hotel. It combines the charm of a boutique hotel with the appeal of a respected art gallery and, to top it off, the food at the in-house vegetarian restaurant is all home-made and good quality.
Why visit? No trip to Dubai is complete without an excursion to Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (still known to many locals as Bastakiya). It is the city’s only heritage area where traditional style buildings have been preserved. Inside XVA, a leafy shaded courtyard unfolds, which is a tranquil haven of calm.
What to see: This month, a group show of work by outsider (or untrained) artists from Iran will be on display.
Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai, daily 10am to 6pm. Tel: (04) 353 5383. xvagallery.com
The lowdown: If you want to learn more about art from India, 1×1 is the place to go. Comprising two vast exhibition spaces, a viewing room and an edition shop, the gallery’s programme highlights both modern (pre-1980) and contemporary (post-1980) artwork from some of the subcontinent’s leading practitioners.
Why visit? Every trip to 1×1 is a learning experience. With such a vast array of artists across a wide timespan, it can feel like visiting a museum rather than a commercial gallery.
What to see: September’s show is a solo exhibition of work by Sunil Gawde. Top pic is Still Alive III, a sculpture of an elephant on an egg: symbolising the strength of something seemingly fragile.
Unit 10, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz, Sat to Thurs 10am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 341 1287. 1x1artgallery.com
The Empty Quarter
The lowdown: Specialising in fine art photography with an emphasis on pieces that highlight the Middle East, this gallery shows a mix of regionally-based artists alongside prominent international names such as Steve McCurry and Bruno Barbey.
Why visit? If you love photography or have an interest in documentation of the region, this gallery is a great place to start discovering. It has a richly varied programme and several high-end photography books are also available.
What to see: French-born photographer Mathieu Hutin’s photojournalistic account of the story of two billion cups of coffee is highlighted this month in a multisensory exhibition.
Gate Village, Building 2, DIFC, Sat to Thurs 10am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 323 1210. theemptyquarter.com
The lowdown: The only space dedicated to art from Central Asia, this gallery shows some of the best-known names from this region, which despite its size is still often undiscovered internationally.
Why visit? The art on show weaves together tales of custom and tradition with contemporary concepts.
What to see: From Uzbekistan, Timur Ernst Akhmedov’s new work is surreal and fantastical, depicting himself and other characters in whimsical scenes.
Unit 18, P4 Level, Damac Park Towers, DIFC, Sat to Thurs 11am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 385 9897. andakulova.com
The Third Line
The lowdown: One of Dubai’s most established galleries with some of the region’s most well-respected artists on their books, every exhibition gives insight into how the Middle East is presented globally.
Why visit? Expertly-curated presentations and information to help visitors decode the sometimes complex visual messages, make a trip here enlightening.
What to see: Iranian artist Nima Nabavi is a new practitioner who is interested in Islamic geometry. His seemingly endless grids are stunning and can take 50 to 60 hours to produce.
Units 78 & 80, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz, Sat to Thurs 10am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 341 1367. thethirdline.com
The lowdown: This gallery is housed inside a converted villa in Jumeirah alongside an antiques shop, interior design outlet, and a compact cafe.
Why visit? The artists on show here are invariably new and undiscovered and usually locally based.
What to see: In mid-September the art of Nidal Khaddour will be on show. He’s a young artist based in the garden city of Al Ain, and works with bright geometrical abstraction.
23B Street, Jumeirah 2, daily 10am to 8pm. Tel: (055) 136 9454. theworkshopdubai.com
The lowdown: A studio hub and a meeting place for members wanting to experiment with the in-house equipment, it’s also home to a leafy garden, skate ramp and one of the coolest communities in town.
Why visit? Even if you’re not an artist, Tashkeel’s gallery space rotates the work of members and also features exhibitions from their ongoing practice programme.
What to see: For the new season, Debjani Bharadwarj explores notions of opposites and contrasts in her solo exhibition titled Telling Tales.
Streets 5 & 20, Nad Al Sheba, Sat to Thurs 9am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 336 3313. tashkeel.org
The lowdown: Representing established artists from all over the Middle East, this gallery is one of the most varied in Dubai and has a respected reputation for building cultural awareness at art fairs and auctions. They have also recently extended their repertoire to include African artists.
Why visit? Other than the light and airy gallery, Tabari Artspace also represents two well-known luxury publishers (Taschen and Assouline), meaning it’s also the perfect place to pick up a top-quality art book for your coffee table.
What to see: This month the gallery is showing Nengi Omoku and Tyna Adebowale, two female artists from Nigeria from the Arthouse Foundation.
Gate Village, Building 3, DIFC, Sat to Thurs 9am to 9pm. Fri 12pm to 6pm. Tel: (04) 323 0820. tabariartspace.com
The lowdown: With an emphasis on regional artists, this innovative gallery has recently partnered with other spaces to raise their profile and attract different audiences.
Why visit? The space is welcoming with none of the intimidating air so often associated with art galleries and the staff will more often than not offer you a quick tour.
What to see: Emirati Shaikha Al Mazrou is having her first Dubai solo exhibition this month. Primarily a sculptor, she is interested in weight, mass and perception.
Unit 21, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz, Sat to Thurs 10am to 6pm. Tel: (04) 346 9906. lawrieshabibi.com
Leila Heller Gallery
The lowdown: Established over three decades ago in New York, Leila Heller Gallery is fairly new in Dubai but brings with it a well-established reputation that places western and Middle Eastern artists in dialogue with each other. At 14,000 square feet, and with three exhibition spaces, it is the largest gallery in the UAE.
Why visit? The huge exhibition halls mean the gallery is innovative with presentation.
What to see: Check their website for their autumn exhibitions, set to start this month.
Unit 87, Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz, Sat to Thurs 10am to 7pm. Tel: (04) 321 6942. leilahellergallery.com