Dear Shaded Viewers,
THE CONTEMPORARY PICTORIALISM
The Grand Palais in Paris is now hosting one of the biggest exhibitions on Bill Viola, the most famous video artist who succeeded in transforming the seventh art into an uncontested fine art. From his early beginnings to today, we’re invited to make an emotional and spiritual journey through installations, video performances and living pictures to face our unconsciousness, desires and even fears. «Who am I, Where am I, Where am I going» are the main questions Viola wants us to confront with, without giving any answers yet making us self-conscious.
Afterwards accurate studies on the Italian Renaissance artistic period and a Caravaggio-inspired use of light, Bill Viola proposes veritable tableaux vivants where the characters continuously evolve and transform themselves. As the Italian Renaissance’s Masters shaped the marble, Viola sculpts time and space, yet focusing on the very present moment, looping movements and situations till reaching their main and inner essence. Every single video frame is a pure visual joy, in which every detail from color palette and landscapes to mimics and performances is crucial like in classical pantings. In The Quintet of the Astonished, the characters appear frozen and static as sculptures but while the time passes they slowly emotionally progress as in a theatrical play. The spectator is indeed invited to watch the video starting from any frame, no matter what and when the beginning or ending is supposed to be, we have to focus on the present moment. Catherine’s room, conceived as a modern reinterpretation of classical triptychs, shows five different moments of a woman’s daily routine, with no start or closing frame neither cuts or film editing, in order to transpose us into a specific and defined instant where the action takes place. So does The Veiling, in which images are projected on several veil layers, that multiply and amplify a series of temporally disconnected events, like a stream of consciousness.
Thoughts and movements flow as water does, a current element in Bill Viola’s work. Following the ancient greek’s aphorism pants rei (everything flows), water perfectly embodies prevalent topics in the artists work. It’s the power and strength of spiritual redemption for the Tristan’s Ascension and a cathartic plunge in Ascension; it marks a situation’s development in Going Forth by Day series in which water is redeeming and at the same time destructive. It finally symbolizes the immobility of the instant present itself in the famous The Dreamers, representing underwater characters frozen in time and space.
Blurring the lines between past and future, Bill Viola enables the present of a constant and never-ending progression, achieving what the characters of one of his latest work was looking for: immortality and eternity.
« If the doors of perception were cleansed, then everything would appear to man as it is – infinite ».
Till July 2014
3, avenue du General Eisenhower