Bill Viola, New York’s greatest video-artist, is currently displaying his work in the Gran Palais. The exhibition is in fact a retrospective, containing works from the 70s to the present day.
Viola’s works have always centered around the general concept of Life — natural phenomena such as fire, wind, water and death are some of the specific themes that come up time and again. His search for a natural order in the world, by means of simple, subtle harmony, is evident to those viewers who invest time in his work, which invites us to escape our day-to-day lives and appreciate the natural principles that sustain existence, the way the Ancient Greeks understood it. Life seen as continuous movement and change (“Life is like a flowing river”). Through his work, Viola wants us to stop and think about who we are, our surroundings, where we’re heading and whether or not we’re actually perceiving the world around us.
Viola challenges the viewer with 20 works projected onto more than 30 screens, ranging from overlapping canvases to a large-format polyptych and each with its accompanying soundtrack filling the room.
Some of the works refer to the great masters of painting — in Going Forth by Day (2002) we see the fresco from Giotto’s Saint Francis chapel; in The Quintet of the Astonished (2000) there is a reference to El Bosco, and The Sleep of Reason (1988) includes a Goya.
The installation is incredible — the different elements of the exhibition, from the distribution of the videos in each room, the lighting, the spaces, the sounds, all work together in harmony to effectively surround the visitors in the sensorial world of Viola’s art. Unmissable!
Grand Palais www.grandpalais.fr