Sunday afternoon in Florence, rays of sun on the Cathedral walls send light reflections across the square, people are chatting, looking around, taking pictures and giving money to street artists. Palazzo Strozzi is imposing and severe, and in the courtyard of the palace the cafe is full of people. On a side, there is the entrance of Strozzina and the stairs to the main floor, in semi-darkness, where the retrospective exhibition of one of the pioneers of video art begins.
It is “Bill Viola. Electronic Renaissance “, a major exhibition celebrating the undisputed master of contemporary video art. “Electronic Renaissance” covers more than 40 years of Bill Viola’s career, the 26 works selected for this exhibition go from 1973 to 2014, many of them are a reinterpretation of masterpieces from the past: Florentine art has in fact been inspiration and reference point for this artist.
The exhibition invites us to reflect on a field not considered enough: the relationship between art and technology development, especially its continuous evolution represented by the digital world.
Bill viola creates video installations that are a combination of harmony, pictures and sounds and that engage the mind and the senses of the viewer.
This exhibition invites you to be patient: Bill Viola uses this means of communication in the life of every day, typical of immediacy, of rapidity.
On the screen (from the phone to your computer to your TV) we see daily fast moving images, messages arriving a few minutes from our demand, news spreading in front of our eyes in an almost violent and overbearing way. In Viola’s works displayed at Palazzo Strozzi, it happens the opposite. These videos never last less than eight minutes, and for most of the time nothing happens. We need patience to detect the change on the screen.
In the Renaissance setting of Palazzo Strozzi we see a real dialogue between ancient and modern: there are masterpieces of the past by artists such as Pontormo, Masolino, Paolo Uccello, Lukas Cranach and their contemporary reproductions of virtual support. Bill Viola took a huge inspiration from Florence: he could hone his experiences in the field of video art and received fascinations that have influenced his artistic production.
Exploring spirituality, Viola’s experience and perception investigates humanity: people, bodies, faces are the protagonists of his works. They are characterized by a highly symbolic style in which man is called to interact with forces and energies of nature such as water and the fire, the light and the dark, the cycle of life.
“Electronic Renaissance” exhibition empowers the relationship between Bill Viola and Florence. It is here that the artist began his career in the field of video art when, between 1974 and 1976, was technical director of art / tapes / 22, production center and video documentation.
The exhibition -organized by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in collaboration with Bill Viola Studio, edited by Arturo Galansino and Kira Perov- will be open until 23 July 2017.
We recommend it, to test your spirit of observation.