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DUBAI: As art enthusiasts look forward to the opening of Art Dubai this weekend, Arab News sat down with the fair’s artistic director, Pablo de Val, who discussed what to expect in the event’s 15th edition.

The exhibition will be held in Madinat Jumeirah from March 11-13 and will showcase more than 100 galleries from 44 countries.

This year’s edition will include Art Dubai Digital, a new section that introduces the digital art world in a way that makes it accessible for all. 

Pablo de Val is the artistic director of the fair. (Supplied)

De Val told Arab News: “It was our intention to build a bridge between the traditional and digital art worlds, and create an intersection of all generations where we conceptualize something that has been there since the 1980s right up to the newest expressions.”

The exhibition will also showcase its regular gallery sections of Contemporary, Modern and Bawwaba. 

A new series of “Bybit Talks” exploring the fundamentals of the digital art world has been added to this year’s Global Art Forum.

LoVid, ‘Hugs on Tape,’ 2021. (Supplied)

 Art Dubai’s artist commission for 2022, Fernando Garcia-Dory, will create a new artwork, “Inland,” examining the city’s past, present and future. 

Visitors and audiences will also be able to experience the Spanish artist’s work at locations across Dubai.

De Val discussed COVID-19 concerns while discussing preparations for this edition of the exhibition.

Muhammad Nafay, The Falling Astronaut, 2020. (Supplied)

“I think it would be strange not to reference the pandemic at this point,” he said. “One of the wonderful things about Art Dubai is that it brings together people from all over the world, and that is also one of the challenges when it comes to regulations and restrictions that are constantly changing.” 

He added: “The priority has always been the wellbeing of our exhibitors and our guests but it’s been a very moving target.”  

Art Dubai has evolved exponentially, according to de Val, starting off as an art fair and developing into a community.

Albarrán Bourdais, Marco Castillo, Maria Victoria, 2021. (Supplied)

Now the artistic director believes that Dubai is seen as a focal point for the arts in the region, with Art Dubai acting as a catalyst for the city’s burgeoning arts scene. 

De Val said that the event has helped promote Dubai as a global arts center.

“In the past, the Western art scene has dominated critical art discourse and, historically, many artists from these regions studied in Paris, New York or London because this was where the best art education took place,” he said.

“I’m pleased to say this is starting to change, particularly for artists from the global south, and there are now more opportunities than ever.”

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