It wouldn’t be totally wrong to say that CLAUDIA CELLINI, along with her two partners from The Third Line Gallery, got the art scene going in Dubai. For the past three years, the gallery has been exhibiting the best of Middle Eastern art. Today, they get the likes of artist Farhad Moshiri, Susan Hefuna or Martin Parr to show there. For those of you who know a bit about art, that’s pretty good. With such big names, trendy Sheikhs, wealthy Iranians and artsy Lebanese are flocking to The Third Line for a bit of high quality art. Claudia, a native American – who lived in Singapore before making it to Dubai – tells us how it all happened.
So Claudia, how did you get into this in the first place?
I found passion and salvation in art. Since then, I’ve been hooked.
How did you and your partners decide to open The Third Line?
On coffee and chocolate cookies, we quickly accessed the state of the art scene in Dubai, back in 2005. We realized funding for artists was what was needed most – and the most effective way of getting them funds was to develop a collectors base, to support them.
Is it harder to start an art gallery in Dubai than in Singapore?
Dubai is even harder than mainland China! The incorporation of our company alone took 6 months – not joking. Finding and fitting out a space was a lesson in micro management, and then trying to compete with the million other events in Dubai (perfume launches, polo tournaments and select DJ’s flying in) was tricky….but its all been really worth it.
What kind of art do you like, personally?
Socially, politically, emotionally and religiously provocative art…I like work that challenges existing structures (even if the work is just technically avant-garde). I like art I learn from, I like art that hits me on five levels. I also like beauty.
Any plans for the future?
I’d like to get married, have some kids, drive from Tehran to Istanbul, not feel like I am always running late and behind on my work. But I think a real vacation would probably substitute in the meantime.
Any projects in the pipeline?
We are working on getting into publishing books on our artists, applying to the major art fairs in the world and upgrading the platform we run.
And finally, what’s in that handbag of yours?
I’m currently carrying a white Tod’s bag from two years ago, but it’s just so functional I can’t seem to retire it. When I look into it, the first thing I see is about twenty receipts and odd papers. A stack of one hundred plus business cards I’ve been meaning to file for months, a new credit card I haven’t authorized yet, a CD of artwork I was supposed to review…oh maybe 3 weeks ago…. A Black YSL wallet stuffed with low amounts of too many different currencies and too many random rewards cards. My Italian and my American passport (I hope no one steals my bag!) A baggie of dog biscuits – I just adopted a dog from k9 society. My favorite Muji pen from Japan which has six colors. Three hair rubber bands, two clips, six Stilla and Mac lipsticks which are all ready to be thrown away and two chap sticks from recent flights. A pack of Kleenex and hand wipes. My business card holder. A set of keys which rivals those of a janitor. A Nokia E50. And last but not least, my work notebook.
Illustration by Gabriela MotShare