The Third Line may well be the most important gallery of Dubai, in terms of significance, professionalism and turnover. The unassuming space located near Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz opened in 2005 – which makes it one of Dubai’s oldest galleries. Its directors, Sunny Rahbar and Claudia Cellini, had an international background in the arts, spanning from the Guggenheim in New York to an art café in Lhasa, Sotheby’s in London and an art education program in Singapore. They decided to create a platform for the emerging artists of the Gulf in Dubai (where Sunny had grown up) and teamed up with the art lover and collector Omar Ghobash (who later became the UAE ambassador to Moscow); thus The Third Line was established.
Within no time The Third Line had become the base for many of the region’s most talented artists, including for example the Iranians Farhad Moshiri and Monir Farmanfarmaian, the Egyptians Huda Lutfi and Susan Hefuna, the Moroccan Hassan Hajjaj and the international collective Slavs and Tatars. These are established artists with an international reputation, but The Third Line also supports upcoming Emirati artists such as Tarek Al Ghoussein and Ebtisam Abdul Aziz. The gallery has published beautiful books on many of its artists; these can be consulted on site or ordered online.
The gallery sells to collectors across the UAE (Emirati and foreign), the Arab world, South Asia and the West. It is an essential participant in regional art fairs such as Art Dubai and Abu Dhabi Art, but in 2012 it was also at Frieze London and Frieze New York, the FIAC in Paris and abc in Berlin – among other fairs. It is managed very professionally and is a reliable partner for those who would like to exhibit its artists abroad.
Since its inception Sunny Rahbar and Claudia Cellini have put the emphasis on curating; they occasionally curate exhibitions of artists which are not with their gallery or invite guest curators such as Rami Farook from Traffic. They have also taken on (part of) the programming of The Pavilion Downtown. Besides curating, The Third Line has hosted Pecha Kucha nights and artists’ talks, but most of these events have relocated to other (more suitable) locations, such as The Pavilion Downtown.
- The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture – Open Calls as of March 2015
- Some of the first favourites at Art Dubai.
- Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi to be the curator of the UAE Venice Biennale 2015 pavillion
- First edition of the Gulf Music Festival at the Archive, Dubai
- And an interesting question mark from Isabelle van den Eynde