THE ROAD TO THE SPIRITUALITY OF BILL VIOLA
Oct 22, 2018
We propose a tour of some desacralised churches in Cuenca to start a journey that invites to withdrawal and the search for spirituality through the work of Bill Viola. The Church of San Andrés, the Convent of Las Angélicas (now turned into the Cruz Novillo Art Center) and the Church of San Miguel, to which the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art and the Museum of Holy Week joint, are the spaces that host 16 pieces of this creator in love with video art.
Bill Viola has become today a reference in this discipline, not only for the innovation of his proposals, with which he found his way when video creation was still little exploited; but also because throughout his career a constant discursive line stands which becomes omnipresent and permeates every single piece in an unmistakable way. Today, part of his work is articulated in a "Mystic Way" distributed in these five spaces of the old town of Cuenca. This project, which involves a physical and temporary tour, becomes the perfect match between the places of exhibition, the old centres dedicated to worship and prayer, and the message of his works, which seem conceived for this installation.
The search and representation of the spirituality in Viola's creations draw directly from Renaissance classicism and the Judeo-Christian tradition that has marked the history of European art since the Middle Ages. Many of his pieces emulate religious paintings that we can easily relate to our most immediate cultural heritage, both for its composition and for the use of colour and light. The author approaches his works as pictures in movement. The influence of pictorialism is clear, but the technical flair in the making and the exquisiteness of the finishes transports us to a point, suspended in time and space, which transcends everything seen so far.
One of the star pieces of this exhibition is entitled "Tristan’s Ascension." In it, the artist wants to represent the ascent of the soul in space with a sequence in a blue tone that conveys peace and serenity. The atmosphere anticipates the climax, the enveloping sound of water abstracts us from the world, the blackness that surrounds the spectator leads his sight towards the artwork that, hypnotic, traps us to contemplate -not to observe- this process. Mysticism almost becomes material.
This work delves into the relation of modern man with his spirituality, an aspect today largely abandoned and relegated to the purely personal sphere of the individual. However, our cultural heritage is very much concerned with religion, not only because of the importance of our heritage for the immense collections of works focused on these themes and the architectural treasures of the European churches and cathedrals; but also because this legacy is still present in the construction of our way of thinking (and even feeling) collectively, in our relationships with our fellowmen, the conception of good or evil, and the burden today called morality that determines to a large extent our behaviour. Above all, Bill Viola reflects with an addictive, raw work that invites, while doing self-criticism, to recover that banished part of the individual. A mystical route to walk through without haste, with the dedication that deserves to think of oneself as a being.