In advance of the highly anticipated opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the museum is continuing to drop breadcrumbs for art lovers across the UAE with preview exhibitions at the Manarat Al Saadiyat museum close by. The venue will showcase the latest additions to the permanent collection in the exhibition ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories’. It will be divided into two displays: ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Al Qalam’ (until Saturday July 25) and ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Immortal Figures’ (until Sunday August 30). Both presentations are linked by the impressive portrait of Fayum, which serves as the cornerstone of this selection of works. The portrait is a fine example of an Egyptian funerary painting that would traditionally have been placed on the face of a mummified body.
Al Qalam is Arabic for ‘the pen’ and ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Al Qalam’ explores the art and development of the written word, featuring a broad selection of textual artworks including a Qur’an bifolio, miniatures and a manuscript. ‘Louvre Abu Dhabi Stories: Immortal Figures’, is a celebration of sculptures from across the globe and offers the opportunity to explore the story of human figural representation through the ages. The selected artworks that make up the two displays were acquired in 2014 as part of the ongoing acquisitions programme for the museum.
‘The objects on display exemplify how artworks created by different civilisations can complement one another in their composition, style and representation. Together, these artistic creations can be considered as a harmonised symphony,’ says Dr Celine Pouyat, senior project manager, Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Hissa Al Dhaheri, programmes manager of Louvre Abu Dhabi, adds: ‘We’re continuing to showcase the museum’s growing collection to local and international audiences through an interactive public programme developed to engage communities of all backgrounds, interests and ages. This display will give the public the opportunity to view the museum’s growing permanent collection ahead of its grand opening this year, broadening awareness of its curatorial identity.’
The exhibition opened during Ramadan and Louvre Abu Dhabi researcher Mohamed Abdulla Al Mansoori explains that the narrative of the ‘Al Qalam’ show was crafted to coincide with the spirit of the Holy Month. ‘The exhibition opens with the Qur’an leaf, which represents how the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had his first revelation during the Holy Month of Ramadan,’ he says. Al Mansoori further explains that the title of the exhibition makes reference to ‘the universal identity of knowledge’.
‘Al Qalam, “the pen”, is, of course, the universal tool of knowledge. It’s used to preserve and to record. All of these unique objects represent the word as it was depicted in its time and its land. Each artwork has its unique place in time and history. These art objects squarely fit in the geography of the new museum and tell the story of the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the exchange of knowledge.’
The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s permanent collection comprises more than 500 artworks, which will be complemented by around 300 works on loan from major French institutions in its opening year. The museum will adopt a unique curatorial trail that moves away from the traditional compartmentalisation of artworks and artefacts by their geographical origins or traditional chronologies of art history. Instead, works from different cultures and civilisations will be shown side by side to highlight the similarities and differences in how common themes are explored.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is scheduled to open this year. Don’t miss either exhibition if you’d like to get a window into the permanent collection of this
Public programmes and workshops will coincide with the display.
Open daily 9am-8pm. Manarat Al Saadiyat Cultural District, Sheikh Khalifa Hwy, Abu Dhabi, www.saadiyatculturaldistrict.ae.