Set across two floors of dedicated exhibition space in Alserkal Avenue, Ishara Art Foundation is a new non-profit organization 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. Given the multiple links to South Asia within the Gulf, our programme is anchored in a regional approach and designed to share compelling artistic perspectives with local and international audiences.

Our programme presents new and established practices through exhibitions and commissions which develop new dialogues and explore regional interconnections. Guided by a research-led approach, Ishara supports the participation of South Asian voices within the lively art, culture and design community of the UAE.

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.

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