Bill Viola, a major mistic artist

I often thought to tell you about Bill Viola, a major American contemporary artist, known for monumental video installations. Different ways  led me to him, the first in a short trip to Norwich in 2012, with the unexpected discovery of Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts . I could have seen the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, which proposed, in collaboration with the Sainsbury Centre the exhibition : Bill Viola : Submerged Spaces. ↓

Bill Viola, Ascension, 2000. Work presented at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2012 edition 

The second comes from my taste for « splash style ». I mean by that my fascination for artists who immerse the body in water. Maybe you remembered  the talent of Eric Zener, a master in the reproduction of body piercing the surface of the water or floating weightless underwater ? ↓

Eric Zener, Tumbling Through the Light, 2013

Eric Zener, Tumbling Through the Light, 2013

Eric Zener, Love, 2012

Eric Zener, Love, 2012

Then, viewing the work of Viola, I remembered my story  : Altarpiece – among others the famous Isenheim Altarpiece -. Why? The response was instinctive looking at the work of Viola on The Greeting, inspired by the Visitation of Mannerist painter Jacopo Pontormo (1494-1557). Viola revives the painting of the period, giving him life stretching in a time that seems, paradoxically, also suspended. ↓

Jacopo Pontormo, La Visitation, 1528

Jacopo Pontormo, La Visitation, 1528

Bill Viola, The Greeting, 1995. Arrêt sur image de la vidéo

Bill Viola, The Greeting, 1995. Arrêt sur image de la vidéo

My hunch was right ! Thus, in a book published on the occasion of an exhibition held in 1998 at the Whitney Museum of Art, the author states , about Viola : « (…) Viola has commented on the  power of art, citing the farmed sixteenth-century Isenheim altarpiece by Matthias Grünenwald. It was originally used as an integral part of healing process . The different pannel were opened and closed in a process that required the patient viewer to spend hours in front of the altarpieces in prayer and contemplation. » Mystical matters for Bill Viola, obviously. It is not a coincidence that Durham Cathedral proposed to host a video of Viola : The Messenger. What beauty spectators must see and feel viewing the dissemination in this video , under a huge stained glass, simply magic! ↓

Bill Viola, The Messenger, 1996. Cathédrale de Durhan

Bill Viola, The Messenger, 1996. Durhan Cathedral

The more I immersed myself in the achievements of Viola, the more I felt the desire of the artist to confront our look at the human condition and issues that cross them. The omnipresence of water reminds us our birth, or the art of leaving the amniotic fluid to rise to life again. The preponderance of the question of time. life, the passage from life to death, a body that is consumed as an aspirin effervescent at the bottom of a glass of water. In the embodiments of Viola, this is all done with a kind of retreat, zen attitude, time seems suspended ↓

The moral of this story is that we should accept to lose ourself in very different artistic universes. So, what could possibly have in common an altarpiece painted in the Late Gothic times by a Bavarian, ultra-realistic paintings of a Californian artist with a contemporary English artist master in art video ? Nothing a priori, yet they talk to you and depict the existential questions of the human soul. Then visit, discover, lose yourself in different matters, the rest will follow …

Bill Viola exhibition at the Grand Palais from March 5 to 21 July 2014

F.B.

Auteur: François BOUTARD

L'auteur de ce blog : déjà surnommé le "Jean-Pierre Coffe du rock" a décidé de vulgariser et faire connaître une autre de ses passions : l'art contemporain et le design. Community Manager et Rédacteur Web, il aime créer du contenu intelligible qui donne du sens à tous ceux qui veulent découvrir et se familiariser avec l'art contemporain et le design.

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