The Apollo 40 Under 40 celebrates its first selection of inspirational young artists, gallerists, art thinkers and curators from across the region.


Caline Aoun, a Beirut-based artist; Mariam Elnozahy, curator for the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo; and Hormoz Hematian, the founding director of Dastan’s Basement, a gallery in Tehran, are just three of the names that make up this year's Apollo 40 Under 40.


Since 2014, the international art magazine Apollo has made an annual selection of inspirational young people transforming the art scene, and this is the first year in which it has drawn its nominations exclusively from the Middle East. Contemporary artists in the region have "finally been getting due recognition at institutions around the world," says Apollo editor Thomas Marks. "It is a part of the world – perhaps more than any other – in which young people have the wherewithal and drive to develop a sustainable and vibrant art sector."


This year’s selection was announced on September 4 in London, where Apollo is headquartered, at the Serpentine Pavilion, with support from Deutsche Bank Wealth Management and Deutsche Bank’s Art, Culture & Sports division.


“Deutsche Bank has a synergy with Apollo, in both its global reach and its mission to share art with society," says Aditya Mishra, Managing Director and Group Head of Global South Asia, UK, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, who spoke at the launch. "Art provides a platform for connecting with our clients; it is a talking point, a shared interest. This year’s 40 Under 40 publication focuses on the Middle East but has brought together people from around the world.”

Who made the final cut in the Apollo 40 under 40 Middle East 2019?

Each year, the final 40 is split equally into four categories: artists, thinkers, business and patrons.


The 2019 judging panel was made up of four individuals from the region who have each played an important role in promoting Middle Eastern art, plus Britta Färber, Deutsche Bank's Chief Curator and Deputy Global Head of Art, Culture & Sports. “Judging the Apollo 40 Under 40 was a fantastic experience,” she said, describing the large number of nominations, which demonstrated the burgeoning talent and passion for contemporary art in the region. “It offered the opportunity to do a deep dive into the incredibly vibrant art scene of the Middle East, a region where contemporary art is helping create a think-tank of likeminded people, which is essential for the future."


This year, the artists were chosen for their innovative approaches and walking the line between the local and the international. For example, Caline Aoun (pictured below right in 2018, © Luis Do Rosario, courtesy Fondazione MAXXI) uses digital printing and photography to explore the effects of technology and globalism on how we share information. As well as making it into this year’s 40 Under 40, she was also Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year in 2018 and had a solo exhibition at the PalaisPopulaire, Deutsche Bank’s cultural forum in Berlin, in the autumn of the same year.

apollo 40 under 40 middle east caline aloun Caline Aoun, 2018. Photo: © Luis Do Rosario, courtesy Fondazione MAXXI

The second category, thinkers, includes the curators, writers and critics who are making the case for art in the Middle East and abroad. Mariam Elnozahy, Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery curator, focuses on critical, community-based approaches to art from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and founded the Open Index Archive, an open-source platform for the documentation and digitization of contemporary art in Egypt. Meanwhile, the business category focuses on the young gallerists and entrepreneurs transforming art business in the region, often through the founding and directing of noteworthy galleries. One such person is the founding director of Dastan’s Basement, Hormoz Hematian. Having swapped his career as a civil engineer for that of a gallerist, he now stages dozens of exhibitions every year for the growing contemporary art audience in Tehran. 


Lastly, the patrons category highlights the philanthropists, private collectors and government officials having a transformative impact on the Middle Eastern art scene. From the founder of theOtherDada, an architecture and design consultancy, to the Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism for Abu Dhabi, the backgrounds of these figures are diverse, yet they are all united in their passion for local art.

How Deutsche Bank supports emerging artists around the world

Deutsche Bank has been promoting access to contemporary art worldwide for almost 40 years. Through our Art, Culture & Sports department, we support young, emerging artists by acquiring their work for our collection of works on paper – one of the most substantial corporate collections of contemporary art in the world. We also support award schemes around the world such as 'Views', the leading art competition in Poland for established artists under the age of 36, for which we have partnered with Zachęta, the country's national gallery.


For 16 years, we have supported Frieze, the leading organizer of international contemporary art fairs, and in 2019 we strengthened our role as Global Lead Partner by supporting their expansion to Los Angeles. The next stop in the Frieze calendar is Frieze London and Frieze Masters, taking place on October 3-6.


To read the full Apollo 40 Under 40 Middle East selection, please click here.

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