Media Release

Abu Dhabi Festival 2018 Kicks Off Visual Arts Programme with opening of 
‘From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi’

Abu Dhabi Festival 2018 Kicks Off Visual Arts Programme with opening of 
‘From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi’ – Works from the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in dialogue with the Emirates

Landmark exhibition is the first Arab World presentation of one of the most significant contemporary art collections in Europe, featuring works by more than 70 artists, including 20 Emiratis, and showcasing 90 years of contemporary art

Accompanying educational programme to include interactive talks, guided exhibition tours and workshops to inspire and encourage creativity amongst emerging talent and UAE youth

(Abu Dhabi, UAE: 04 February 2018): Abu Dhabi Festival 2018 (ADF18) launched its diverse Visual Arts Programme with the inauguration of a landmark exhibition on 1 February, in the presence of H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, and H.E. Antonio Alvarez Barthe, Ambassador of Spain to the United Arab Emirates alongside Ainhoa Grandes, President of MACBA Foundation. From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi – Works from the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in dialogue with the Emirates, features pioneering works and artforms from the 20th and 21st centuries – presented in the Arab world for the very first time – exploring the universal themes of our common human existence.

The exhibition showcases works by 70 artists, over nine decades from MACBA, including 20 Emiratis, brought together in a pioneering exhibition curated by MACBA’s Director, Ferran Barenblit, in partnership with co-curator Nasser Abdullah, Chairman of the Emirates Fine Arts Society. The exhibition is now open to the public until 17 March 2018, hosted at Manarat al Saadiyat.

H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of ADF, said: “Art and culture build a bridge towards openness, tolerance and understanding. Through creative expression, artists claim and shape spaces of beauty where ideas converge and minds intertwine; in these spaces of contemplation and expression, we encounter ourselves and others. Dialogue is the very essence of cultural diplomacy. This dialogue between artists and cultures requires both expression and understanding: we celebrate our own cultural identity as we encounter, listen to and hear others. It is only through such exchange that awareness, appreciation and knowledge grows. As the UAE’s cultural renaissance continues, our development depends on this openness. As we listen, expression strengthens, as we express ourselves, we draw closer to others.”

Ainhoa Grandes, President of MACBA commented: “The dialogue offered by this exhibition expresses the importance of expanding the knowledge of our worlds, of the East and the West, of working together to bring art closer to broad audiences.”

The exhibition features artworks by some of the most prominent artists of the modern and contemporary eras, including Alexander Calder, Sol LeWitt, Anthony McCall, Lawrence Weiner, Piero Manzoni and Antoni Tàpies, in dialogue with artworks by pioneers of UAE contemporary practice, including Hassan Sharif, Mohammed Kazem and Ebtisam Abdul Aziz. The artworks on display are united by their exploration of the questions that define us: What makes us human? Where and how do we live? What is art?

H.E. Antonio Alvarez Barthe, Ambassador of Spain to the United Arab Emirates said: “It is only natural that the MACBA has chosen Abu Dhabi as the venue for its first major exhibition in the Arab world. The masterpieces from MACBA’s permanent collection will be greeted by the works of 20 contemporary Emirati artists, thus establishing a dialogue that will renew and deepen the ties between Spain and the UAE, between the Western and the Arab world.”

Inviting visitors to embark on a journey to explore the role of art in contemporaneity, From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi features artworks across diverse media: film, sculpture, painting, installation, drawing, photography, light works and conceptual pieces. The exhibition brings together universal themes that explore our human and social condition, through significant artworks across continents, decades, schools of thought and artistic movements of the last ninety years.

Accompanying this year’s headline exhibition will be the Abu Dhabi Festival’s Visual Arts Education Programme, aimed at inspiring and encouraging creative engagement amongst the country’s emerging artists as well as university and school students through a series of interactive talks, guided exhibition tours and dynamic creative sessions led by renowned Emirati and UAE-based practitioners who feature in the exhibition.

As well as daily hour long tours at 11 am, 2 pm and 3 pm, find a full calendar of events below:

The Abu Dhabi Festival is presented and organised by Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. ADMAF is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision.

For further information on schedules, venues and performances please visit the Festival website Abu Dhabi Festival can also be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.