They’re conquering the international Art scene from Dubai. Their portfolio includes contemporary artists from Austria to Abu Dhabi and all the way to Iran: meet couple Kourosh Nouri and Nadine Knotzer and their gallery, Carbon 12. THE Stylemate spoke to the Pair about the future of art and the Expo, and got a few insider tips about Dubai from those in the know.
You’ve had your gallery for 13 years now. What have been the most significant changes on the art market in that time?
Kourosh Nouri: We’ve come a long way in terms of technology; many collectors went very digital very quickly, which we don’t think was a good idea for art in the short and medium term. At the same time, the ease with which you can make better and better images and videos “stole” something from the inherent value of art. We feel that the personal appreciation of being anchored in a positive environment and context has been lost somewhat. COVID mixed things up in a good way. Going to a gallery now to see an exhibition has become an act of bravery and courage, a social responsibility towards the chosen gallery and artists. We hope it stays that way.
Why did you choose Dubai as a location?
Nadine Knotzer: At the time, Dubai just felt right – the place, the time and the opportunity! The area where we have our gallery, Carbon 12, has also undergone a great change in the last few years and experienced a huge amount of hype. You could actually say that about the entire city.
On which criteria do you base your choice of artists?
Kourosh Nouri: To make it as simple as possible, I’d say it’s based on real and authentic contemporary practices, professionality and how they complement our portfolio. Just like our collectors, we want to continue doing our job with passion and enjoy every second to the fullest and most professional level. That’s why we look at and consider artists very thoroughly before taking them on.
When you’re establishing a new artist, how far into the future do you look?
Nadine Knotzer: We have to look 15 to 30 years into the future.
What future scenarios do you currently see for your latest talent Anthony Akinbola?
Kourosh Nouri: The future for Anthony is exciting. He had great exhibitions last year, lots of attention from great curators, collectors and galleries around the world. But the most important thing is that he is more and more motivated to produce and display art.
What are three things you wish for the future of your artists?
Nadine Knotzer: Continued, genuine practice with constant progress, wellearned curatorial attention and epic shows.
How has the industry taken to digitalisation and what’s your position on it?
Kourosh Nouri: The art world is ahead of many other industries when it comes to digitalisation. And even since the pandemic, galleries have managed to develop amazing things online. Carbon 12 was already very active online. Because of the pandemic, we also started a series of online shows, video exhibitions and virtual talks.
What do you personally associate with the Expo, and what are you looking forward to in particular?
Nadine Knotzer: When we think about the Expo, we think of lots of visitors from all over the world. Although unfortunately, the scope will be limited this year because of COVID. Of course, we’re looking forward to being in the centre of the action and discovering all the great architects of the pavilions.
How does the motto “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” currently apply to the art world?
Kourosh Nouri: The title says exactly what the art world is already doing. We “connect” through exhibitions, publications, art fairs and much more. Our artists are helping to shape the future.
Which exhibition will you be displaying for the Expo?
Nadine Knotzer: We’ll be showing a special exhibition in collaboration with the pavilion, curated by Marianne Dobner, with artists Monika Grabuschnigg, Elisabeth Wild, James Lewis and Laurence Strula.
How do collectors in Dubai differ to those in the rest of the world?
Kourosh Nouri: It’s really interesting that the collectors in the United Arab Emirates are all very young. That makes for exciting and dynamic collections.
A guide to Dubai
by Kourosh Nouri & Nadine Knotzer
The 3 favourite restaurants
I ’m excited about the new restaurant from young Syrian-French chef Solemann haddad called “moonrise.” He and his partner Misbah Chowdhury are known among connoisseurs for the best pop-ups in the city, and in just a few weeks will finally open their own restaurant. “Moonrise” will be the best restaurant in town by a long way.
“Hapi” is a no-nonsense, small restaurant by the park in Jumeirah, where they use only the very best produce. It’s a great spot for brunch!
Sallet al Sayed
A Palestinian fish restaurant in Karama. They have the best prawns in the city!
You’ll get the best cocktails at…
We would have to say, the best Martinis are to be found at “the Maine.”
This is how I spend a day at the beach…
When you live in Dubai, the thing to do is go to kite beach at the weekend, a public beach in Jumeirah. When I feel like having a luxury day at the beach, the Bulgari beach is one of the best – beautifully quiet and great food.
The best wellness oasis?
There are as many spas as there are grains of sand on the beach. The Ritz Carlton is one of the best spots for massages. For nails and hair, chalk salon is right up there.
And what about the creative scene?
It’s on Alserkal Avenue, which is also where our gallery is. That’s where most of the co-working spaces are as well, where the city’s young creatives work.
I’ll be buying my outfit for the next preview at…
I follow what the small fashion labels are doing very closely. Shabab is my favourite streetwear label. The shirts are also suitable for preview outfits.
Something you’ll only find in Dubai…
“3fils”, one of the best Japanese fusion restaurants in a small harbor in Jumeirah.
Dubai is young, but still authentic.
There’s a mix of old and new in Dubai around every corner.
Carbon 12 Gallery >>