Saira Ansari is a researcher and a writer with a focus on South Asian art history and publishing. She holds a BFA and an MA (Hons.) in Visual Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore. She works in Publications and Research at the Sharjah Art Foundation and is a Contributing Editor for the South Asian literary journal Papercuts. Her curatorial projects include The importance of staying quiet (Hong Kong, 2014). Saira has contributed to various international publications including Art Asia Pacific, The Rio Times, The State, Canvas, Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia, Khaleej Times, Folio, ArtNow Pakistan, Herald Magazine; with essays in Everything we do is music, Drawing Room and Cornerhouse Publications (UK, 2017); Rupak, Lala Rukh’s commission for Documenta 14, Grey Noise (UAE, 2017); Syntax Freezone: Anthology of Essays on Language and Accent, THE STATE and Maraya Art Centre (UAE, 2015); PIX: The Pakistan Issue (India, 2015); and Sohbet: Journal of Contemporary Arts and Culture, Vol. 2 (Pakistan, 2011), amongst others.
Introduction: South Asian Modern&Contemporary Art
Laura Egerton is a Dubai-based writer and curator. Moving to the UAE from the UK in 2006, she was one of the founding team behind Art Dubai where she ran education programmes, selected art projects and was Curator of the Abraaj Group Art Prize for its first five years. Since 2013 she has embarked on a new career as a freelance arts writer and consultant, regularly contributing to UAE-based publications such as Canvas, Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia, Architectural Digest ME and Selections. She also orchestrates the publication, app and social media campaigns for Art Week each March and works closely with a number of galleries and art organisations advising them on future strategy. Laura has worked for Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice and Christies Auction House, London and holds MA's in art history from Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Tiziano Aglieri Rinella (b. 1971), architect, Ph.D., is currently teaching architecture at Al Ghurair University in Dubai (UAE). From 2009 to September 2015, he has been teaching at the Faculty of Arts of IULM University in Milan. Former MARC 2002 fellow (Alvar Aalto Academy) and awarded the Le Corbusier Foundation grant (2002-2003), his scholarly interests concern different research topics in the field of architecture and design, with a special focus on the heritage of the Modern Movement. He is UNESCO consultant for architecture projects in the Middle East. Author of books and articles, he is a frequent speaker at international conferences. He is qualified as associate professor of architecture from the Italian Ministry of University and Research.
Rubén García Rubio, Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Valladolid (2016); and Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Roma Tre (2016). He has been “Visiting Scholar” in the American Academy in Rome in 2012. He has been Professor in several Schools of Architecture in Europe and has also been Guest Professor in many international institutions. As a professional, his work has been awarded with architectural prizes and thoroughly published in national and international architectural magazines. At the present, he is teacher at the Al Ghurair University (Dubai, UAE) and combines it with a research activity in several university projects and his works in his architectural office RRa. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the architectural weblog CajondeArquitecto.com.
Born and educated in the UK, William Lawrie is the co-founder of Lawrie Shabibi, a contemporary art gallery established in 2011 in Alserkal Avenue, located in Al Quoz Industrial district in Dubai.
William was formerly director of Contemporary Middle Eastern Art at Christie's. He was the first auction house specialist to hold such a role and instigated the Christie's auctions in this field. He put together the first nine Christie's auctions in Dubai between the period 2006 to 2010 which together sold $100 million of Arab, Iranian and Turkish modern and contemporary art. These auctions are often cited as the catalyst for commercial and institutional interest in this field.
He holds and MA in History of Art from Edinburgh University, with a specialized and in Islamic Art and graduated with first class honours, having been studied under Professor Robert Hillenbrand. William then studied Arabic in Cairo before working with Sam Fogg, a prominent dealer of Islamic art in London. In 2004 he joined Christie's Islamic art department as a specialist for miniatures and manuscripts. Highlights of his years working with Islamic Art were the discovery of the earliest dated version of the Thousand and One Nights, and possibly the earliest known Chinese Qur’an, a 14th century manuscript from the period of Mongol rule in China.
Between 2005 and 2010 William created and then led Christie’s sales of Contemporary Arab and Iranian art. In 2008 he introduced Turkish contemporary art to the Dubai auctions. He was the first auction house specialist to be dedicated to this genre and the first auction of Christie’s Dubai in May 2006 is often cited as the catalyst for the increased commercial and institutional interest in this field. Since 2011 his focus has been the gallery Lawrie Shabibi.
William has participated in talks and panel discussions in Cairo, London, Istanbul, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He has provided a commentary on the Middle East art market for international publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and The Art Newspaper. He is the Middle East consultant for the Fine Art Fund and regularly conducts auctions for charitable organizations and non-profits.
Sophie Stevens is a jewellery specialist, gemologist and diamond grader based in Dubai. In 2016 she set up 51:55, a fine jewellery and gemstone advisory business that helps clients across the Middle East develop collections from rare pieces only available in the secondary market.
Prior to moving to Dubai in 2016, Sophie was a Jewellery Specialist at Bonhams Auctioneers at its New Bond Street headquarters in London. Before this she worked with one of the world’s oldest diamond dealers and antique jewellers, where she qualified as a gemologist and diamond grader. She has handled a wide range of exceptional jewels, diamonds, precious gems and natural pearls.
In addition to her work with 51:55, Sophie covers the Watches & Jewellery content for Harper's Bazaar Arabia, writes extensively for regional and international jewellery press, and is a Jewellery Consultant for Sotheby’s Middle East. Sophie holds a BA from the University of Bristol and is currently studying towards her Masters in Business Administration.
Sumantro Ghose is a curator, educator and writer who has worked and consulted for a range of cultural and educational institutions in the UK and Middle East including Dubai Culture, Qatar Museums Authority, Tate, National Portrait Gallery, Frieze, Sotheby’s Institute, Richmond University and the American Institute for Foreign Study. His research interests include modern and contemporary art, museums and cultural relations and he has had features published in the Independent, the Guardian and Modern Painters magazine. He was the winner of the Guardian/Modern Painters Art Writers’ Prize in 2004. He has an MA in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.