ABU DHABI – The age of the blockbuster show may well be over. Now audiences revel in beautifully curated, carefully thought-out, themed exhibitions that guide the eye through aesthetic or intellectual premises. One such example is Abu Dhabi Art's Selections from the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Collection – a long anticipated glimpse that I must say did not disappoint. Light in all its incarnations – natural, artificial, reflected, directed, interior or exterior, transcendental or celestial – is chosen as the guiding theme. Five sections examine light in various iterations: Activated, Celestial, Perceptual, Reflected and Transcendental. A large number of artists from various nationalities have been chosen for their vision of light as perceptual phenomenon.


In groupings that reflect an exceptional curatorial hand, we see Ghada Amer and Rachid Koraichi casting shadows as part of their narrative and interpretation of their works; Dan Flavin and Monir Farman-Farmaian respectively play with light and translucence, and the reflections of mirror-reliefs. The crowning glory of course is Yayoi Kusama's self-explanatory Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled With the Brilliance of Life (2011). A room filled with LED lights, this mother of all installations suggests limitless space and the infinity. I challenge any viewer to contemplate it for longer than 10 minutes without experiencing perceptual alterations!


A personal favorite is Shirazeh Houshiary's luminous work which draws the viewer into both technical and imaginative rapture.

The show's opening was attended by an illustrious company of regional and international cognoscenti, an audience of art lovers who appreciate what's on offer. The Fair itself, opening 24 hours later, will be no less a feast.

guggenheim-kusamaYayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life, at the pre-opening exhibition at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Photograph by Karim Sahib.