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West Africa art makes big splash in Dubai

art and culture Updated: Mar 22, 2013 19:20 IST

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About 500 artists from 30 countries, with a special window on West Africa, are displaying their works at Art Dubai, billed as the leading contemporary art fair in the Middle East and North Africa.

While half of the artists hail from the Middle East and Indian sub-continent, this year's fair has dedicated a special pavilion, Changing Cities, to artists from West Africa with galleries from Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana and Senegal.

"Dubai Art's emergence as a major global art event is representative of Dubai's growing stature as an international art hub ... We provide a window into a very fertile regional art scene," said Antonia Carver, director of the fair.

The works of renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama are also on display for the first time in the region among the avant-garde paintings at the fair which opened on Wednesday night and runs until Saturday.

Syrian artists too have exhibited their works inspired by the bloody conflict that has roiled their country. Among them is Ammar al-Beik, with his work "The Guillotine."

"Many artists have left Syria, galleries are closed while others have moved their collections outside the country," said Delphine Leccas from the Atassi gallery in Damascus.

Last year, four works, including two inspired by the Arab Spring, were removed by censors, but this year saw no such action. The 2012 edition of Art Dubai totalled sales of $40 million.