Dear Shaded Viewers,


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 ».

G. Bianca

Till July 2014

Grand Palais

3, avenue du General Eisenhower

Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.