Fair and Programme Director
Kaneka Subberwal has many firsts to her credit and she has built on this pioneering spirit to make her vision her mission. She has persisted despite all odds to turn what seemed like an impossible dream into reality – putting Bahrain on the map as far as art is concerned.
Her initiative is to make Bahrain a focal point for art in the West Asian region and establish a forward-thinking platform to promote the growth of art in the country. This has come to fruition as a result of BAAB – Bahrain Art Across Borders – an initiative powered by Tamkeen to take the art of the artists of Bahrain across borders globally.
Kaneka arrived in Bahrain in 2008 with her company Art Select and set up Bahrain’s first art lounge, further expanding it into the field of art consultancy which included artists, collectors, families and corporate offices within the ambit of the arts. She organized a number of art shows across the country – with ArtBahrain being a culmination of sorts, the impact it has had is commendable, especially since art fairs are a relatively new phenomenon in the region.
She aspires to create a common space for galleries and artists from around the globe to connect with collectors and art aficionados, whilst remaining hopeful that neighbouring Arab States will be more proactive in investing in and promoting their contemporary artists to the world.
With regards to organizing art exhibitions, her portfolio is impressive by any standards as she has organized a total of 57 and counting. She began in 2005 with shows in Dubai, London, Oman and Doha and the outreach of the expositions was such that she was able to bring in many new buyers and collectors within the ambit of the arts. As an art investment expert, not only did she learn to wear different hats, but also carry them with great responsibility and aplomb.
Chair, Artist Selection
Jonathan Watkins has been Director of Ikon Gallery since 1999. Previously he worked for a number of years in London, as Curator of the Serpentine Gallery (1995-1997) and Director of Chisenhale Gallery (1990-1995).
He has curated a number of large international exhibitions including the Biennale of Sydney (1998), Facts of Life: Contemporary Japanese Art (Hayward Gallery, London 2001), Quotidiana (Castello di Rivoli, Turin 1999, Tate Triennial (2003), Shanghai Biennale (2006), Sharjah Biennial (2007), Negotiations (Today Art Museum, Beijing 2010) and the Guangzhou Triennial (2012). He was on the curatorial team for Europarte (Venice Biennale, 1997), Milano Europa 2000, (Palazzo di Triennale, Milan 2000), and Riwaq (Palestinian Biennial 2007). He curated the Iraqi Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2013.
Chair, Gallery Selection
Alistair Hicks worked as Senior Curator at Deutsche Bank for twenty years, where he was involved in naming the sixty floors of the Frankfurt headquarters after artists from around the world. While at Deutsche Bank his main job was selecting and presenting art to purchase committees.
He has left Deutsche Bank to concentrate on his curating, writing and advising his collectors.
His latest book is a survey of 21st century art, The Global Art Compass, Thames and Hudson (2014). In November 2015 Yapi Kredi published a Turkish edition with an extra chapter on Turkish artists. Hicks has been an art critic for such diverse publications as The Spectator, The Times and Vogue. He wrote School of London (Phaidon, 1989) and New British Art in the Saatchi Collection, (Thames & Hudson, 1989). In 2015 he was the curator of two one-man exhibitions at Kumu, the National Gallery of Estonia, those of Raymond Pettibon and Marko Maetamm. In May 2017 he is curating an exhibition at the Pera Museum in Istanbul, Doublethink: Doublevision.
Chair, Public Programmes
Amal Khalaf is an artist, educator and curator. She is Projects Curator at the Serpentine Galleries’ where she has been working on the Edgware Road Project since its inception in 2009.
In addition to organising screenings, performances, discussions, and community-based collaborative programs and exhibitions both on and offsite, she developed a theatre and social justice program in collaboration with migrant rights organisations and ESOL teachers in London. She is currently Commissioning Editor of Projects for Ibraaz, and a founding member of artist collective GCC as well as a trustee for the Crossway Foundation. She co-directed the 10th edition of the Global Art Forum, Art Dubai in 2016.
Previously, she worked at Gasworks, London, the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo and Al Riwaq Gallery, Bahrain, as well as co-founding Hold and Freight, London, a project space based in an abandoned Victorian railway arch. Her writing has been featured in a number of edited volumes, journals and international publications.
Amal’s work has been presented at the University of Pennsylvania; Goldsmiths College, London; MoMA PS1, NY; New Museum, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Musee D’Art Moderne, Paris; The Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah; Serralves, Porto; amongst others in the educational and cultural context.
Head of Outreach
David is the former Executive Director of Arts for India, the Modi family of India’s art foundation. Arts for India developed the Delhi-based International Institute of Fine Arts (IIFA) and worked towards supporting it into the first private university of the arts in India. To promote this, in 2014 David devised Indian Art Week in London.
David has also promoted the development of the creative economy – consulting to Arts & Business, the UK’s agency for promoting private sector investment into the creative industries whilst advising UK decision-makers and politicians via the boards of thinktanks ResPublica and the New Culture Forum, both of which have a focus on the arts.
CEO and Founder of Curzon PR
Farzana set up award-winning Curzon PR in 2009 after previously serving as Vice-Chair of Business Relations for the British Conservative Party. Farzana has nurtured Curzon PR, driving it forward as an international-leading communications agency, with a particular focus on arts & culture.
Arts & culture clients have included the Ukrainian Biennale, Hyper Japan, Elena Shchukina Gallery, Art Kyiv Contemporary, the Grand Asian Art Bazaar (GAAB), Heist, Maslenitsa, Read Russia, the Calvert 22 Foundation, Russian Art Week, Indian Art Week as well as strategically advising Art Bahrain Across Borders since its inception in 2015.
Maryana is a Director at Curzon PR with a focus on culture. As part of her brief she is the Founder of the Curzon PR Salon Series, showcasing thought-leaders in culture, the arts, politics and business.
Maryana has been living in London since 1997. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
She has previously worked as a liaison to the Russian Federation on fundraising for The Chagall Project. She was also responsible for business development for the Mystetskyi Arsenal 2012, the inaugural Art Kiev in Ukraine 2012, the Azerbaijan Government Interfaith Conference 2012, the Maslenitsa Festival London 2013 and artist Annya Sand’s “Study of Russia” exhibition at Asia House in London, 2013.
Sonja’s professional experience in the art world spans nearly 25 years.
She is presently an art advisor to ultra high net worth clients and a director of League of Sound, a partnership she founded with Irina Simons, dedicated to creating international artistic events of the highest quality, working from London and Moscow, bringing together creatives from all artistic disciplines.
Sonja was the gallery manager of S. F. Fine Arts, New York from 1994-2002.
She was a founding member of the Moscow World Fine Art Fair 2003, responsible for setting up the infrastructure and logistics of the fair.