Ishara Art Foundation is a new space focused on contemporary art from a South Asian context. We have an expansive definition of the region, which includes the diaspora and overlapping histories of the region around India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Our dedicated space and exhibitions programme, the first of its kind in West Asia, will build on the shared histories, continued presence and cultural contribution of South Asian voices in the Gulf.

We will bring new and established practices to Dubai’s diverse local and international audiences. Through monographic presentations, group exhibitions, new commissions and touring exhibitions, we will develop new dialogues and explore regional interconnections. Further information about our partnerships and programming will be available when the foundation launches in March.

The Ishara logo, a synthesis of the square and circle, is based on an ideogram by Zarina to describe the word Aasman, sky. This is one of 36 images from Home is a Foreign Place (1999), a key work in the Ishara collection. An ishara is a gesture, a hint or signal, a word common to several languages spoken around the Indian Ocean including Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Swahili; the foundation views it as an invitation to be culturally rooted and accessible to the world.

The Ishara Art Foundation is established by Smita Prabhakar, collector and UAE resident, with a view to supporting artistic practice and cultural exchange. Curator and specialist in South Asian art, Nada Raza returns to Dubai as Artistic Director.

The team is supported by an Advisory Board, chaired by Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, curators Maya Allison and Sandhini Poddar, and acclaimed artists Bharti Kher and Chittrovanu Mazumdar, bringing expert guidance from international and regional art world professionals.

Ishara Art Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation with Abdulmonem Alserkal as Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees, which includes locally recognised figures from art and business, Myrna Ayad, Hoda Barakat, Mustafa Hashemi, Abdul Hamid Juma, Colm Mcloughlin, Samer Saifi, Rajan Sehgal, and Abdul Fattah Sharaf.

Ishara Art Foundation is presented in partnership with Alserkal Avenue

Zarina, Sky from the portfolio Home is a Foreign Place 1999 © Zarina, image courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine