Louvre Abu Dhabi’s first exhibition of the year to feature more than 80 abstract artworks

The show features works by Paul Klee, Lee Krasner, Dia Azzawi and Mona Hatoum, as well as new installations by eL Seed and Sanki King

Paul Klee's 'Oriental Bliss' (1938) features in Louvre Abu Dhabi’s latest exhibition, Abstraction and Calligraphy - Towards a Universal Language. Courtesy Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
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Louvre Abu Dhabi's first exhibition of the year will focus on abstract and calligraphic works across various cultures and time periods.

More than 80 artworks from 16 partner institutions are included in the show Abstraction and Calligraphy – Towards a Universal Language, which will open on February 17, with creations by Dia Azzawi, Mona Hatoum, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Lee Krasner, Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly.

Many of the pieces will be shown for the first time in the region.

Abstraction and Calligraphy – Towards a Universal Language

Organised in four themed sections, the exhibition charts the development of abstraction in visual art since the early 20th century. Influenced by signs, symbols and philosophies from outside of the western canon, these abstract movements bear elements and artistic techniques from various cultures and societies.

In the first section, the show looks at how symbolic figurative images, including hieroglyphics, inspired artists such as Klee. It also explores how inscriptions and calligraphy have been reinterpreted by artists such as Azzawi and Anwar Jalal Shemza.

Vassily Kandinsky, 'Trente [Thirty]' (1937), oil on canvas. Courtesy Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Philippe Migeat
Vassily Kandinsky, 'Trente [Thirty]' (1937), oil on canvas. Courtesy Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Philippe Migeat

The second section delves into signs and their use in the abstract works of Kandinsky, for example, as he sought to express universal ideas. Many artists of the time turned east, to Japan and China, to borrow elements from calligraphers in those traditions.

In the next section, which is devoted to lineaments, the show considers how western artists such as Pollock, Philip Guston and Willem de Kooning turned to abstraction and expressionism as a way to break away from convention and explore the subjective experience.

The final section investigates how calligraphy was influential among both western and eastern artists. This includes works by regional artists Shakir Hassan Al Said and Sliman Mansour, who sought to expand the technique’s use beyond its linguistic purposes.

Additionally, this section includes two original artworks by French-Tunisian artist eL Seed, who lives in Dubai, and Pakistani street artist Sanki King. Both are known for fusing calligraphy and graffiti in their works.

The pair will present large-scale installations that venture into new visual forms and also speak to the museum programming’s theme of cultural exchange.

This exhibition, which runs until June, marks the continued collaboration between Louvre Abu Dhabi and Centre Pompidou. It will also feature loans from Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Musee du Louvre in Paris, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and The McKee Gallery in New York, among others.

More information is available at louvreabudhabi.ae