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Published in Gulf Today

Artezaar.com, the online art website from Dubai where buyers can buy artwork, home accessories and paintings, was founded by two women, Leena Kewlani and Teena Thawani. They grew up in the UAE and are self-taught artists. Artezaar was initially conceptualised for artists to have a venue to showcase their works, accessible to all. It is designed to appeal to all budgets, from artworks that are below Dhs500, to pieces that go above Dhs20,000.

Teena Thawani speaks to Gulf Today about the initiative

As a person born and brought up in the UAE, can you tell us about how the art ecology has evolved here?  

The UAE has been on the forefront of the regional art market and has paved the way to the international art scene, taking the demand for Islamic and Middle Eastern art worldwide. With the renowned Christie’s launching in the UAE in 2006, followed by many more international and regional art projects, such as Sotheby’s opening at DIFC in 2017 and the prestigious Louvre Abu Dhabi opening in 2017, the UAE established itself in the global art market, both commercially and culturally. These important collaborations not only made a mark in the art sector, but also boosted tourism, retail and other closely related industries.

Local exhibitions have also made a mark in the international art scene, such as Sikka Art Fair, Art Dubai, World Art Dubai, to name a few. Art Dubai, established in 2006, is one of the most globalised art fairs, attracting galleries worldwide, and artists and visitors from over 80 nationalities, public art commissions, remarkable installations and art talks. The UAE’s visual art market was earlier valued at $13.4 million in 2013, and in 2019, the study predicted that it would grow to $19.4 million. Art and design education has also developed and found its way into the school and university curricula, with a more career focused approach. Most importantly, the UAE leadership and commitment from the government and its bodies, have helped the Emirates reach this stage.

Do you focus only on Middle East artists or also on South Asia and art from other regions?

Currently, all our artists are UAE based, representing 30 nationalities, from the UAE, Jordan, Syria, India, Pakistan, Europe, US, Australia, Moldova, Armenia and many others.

What are the qualities an artist should have to figure on the Artezaar roster?

Artezaar is for everyone; we have artists from five years old to 70+ years old, and professional full time artists to self-taught artists. To become an Artezaar artist, we need to understand their background, experience, their quality of work, professionalism and much more. Our curators help us review the art submissions and advise on details as well as advise the artists on critical points, such as pricing and authenticity.

What has been your finest moment?

When we registered 100 artists at the beginning of 2020! When we launched Artezaar, we hoped to attract 20 to 25 artists. Few months later, we were a 100 already. For us, this points to the huge untapped talent that exists in the Emirates and the demand for an accessible platform from which to sell large volumes of quality, affordable art.

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