Winning artists and curator announced for the 2016 Abraaj Group Art Prize

Words by Elena Scarpa
October 24, 2015

The Abraaj Group, a leading investor operating in global growth markets, has announced the curator and winning and shortlisted artists selected for the eighth Abraaj Group Art Prize, the most significant arts prize in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, recognised globally for its generous and innovative support of artists.

Artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia were invited to submit proposals for a major new commission—a dream project—to be produced through a 100,000 USD award and then revealed as part of a group exhibition at the 10th edition of Art Dubai, March 16–19, 2016. The exhibition also features works by the three shortlisted artists, each of whom receive a cash prize of 10,000 USD. The Abraaj Group Art Prize is the only art prize of its kind that awards artists based on a proposal rather than on a completed work.

The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2016 winning artist:
–Artist duo Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme

The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2016 shortlisted artists:
–Dina Danish
–Mahmoud Khaled
–Basir Mahmood

The Abraaj Group Art Prize 2016 guest curator:
–Nav Haq

“The Abraaj Group Art Prize provides artists with the space and time to develop their practice in potentially new and unexpected ways,” said Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme following the announcement. “At the same time, it provides resources for artists from the region to develop their careers on an international scale.”

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, who began their collaborative practice in 2007, work together across a range of sound, image, text, installation and performance practices. The duo explain that their experiences in Palestine, where they are originally from, shape their practice, “not in isolation, but in the sense of how each experience speaks to other moments elsewhere and provides a critical vantage point from which to read the contemporary moment.”

“Basel and Ruanne have demonstrated not only that they possess maturity in how they use sound, image and space in their practice, but also a real sense of experimentation in their artistic visions of a social and political imaginary,” said Guest Curator Nav Haq. “There is a rare complexity to their art that I feel makes them genuinely significant artists, and I’m looking forward very much to working with them.”

Three shortlisted artists—Dina Danish, Mahmoud Khaled and Basir Mahmood—are also recognised by the prize, with the jury noting their outstanding work and the deep development of their practices over recent years. All three artists, described by Nav Haq as “excellent and highly thoughtful,” will contribute previous works to the curated group exhibition and be featured in an accompanying publication.

The Abraaj Group, a leading private equity manager investing in global growth markets, launched The Abraaj Group Art Prize in 2008 to bolster the region’s arts ecosystem and reward artistic development. The Abraaj Group Arts Prize Collection—comprised of works commissioned as part of the prize—has a highly active lending policy, with works having been exhibited across five continents, 11 biennales, 31 institutions and 25 countries.

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