Bill Viola. Icon of light
Palazzo Bonaparte, Rome
March 05 – June 26, 2022
BILL VIOLA. Icons of Light is the title of an upcoming exhibition at Palazzo Bonaparte. Starting from 5 March 2022, the event will pay tribute to the foremost practitioner of video art from the 70’s to the present, with BILL VIOLA making a truly exceptional return to the city of Rome.
Combining eastern spirituality with the western mindset, art history with video experimentation, reflections on Christianity and Zen, the artist brings his work to an unconventional site for the exhibition of contemporary art. In what was once the refined dwelling of Madame Letizia Ramolino Bonaparte, Napoleon’s mother, visitors are surrounded by the vision of Bill Viola’s works, one of the world’s unquestioned masters of video art. The exhibition includes works from the 70’s to the present, from videos delving into the relationship between man and nature to those inspired by classic iconology. His art engages in a dialogue with the magnificent space of the Palazzo Bonaparte, surrounding viewers with an exhibition layout that weaves together the Palazzo’s marvellous baroque interior with the intensity of the American artist’s video installations.
Bill Viola recognised the potential for video technology to examine modern life, from reflections on Buddhist thought and Christianity to meditations on nature and the emotional motifs of his videos from the Passions series. The emotions, meditations and passions that emerge from his videos can take the viewer on an inner voyage, as the artist’s most intimate, spiritual journeys are narrated by means of electronic media.
With the expert care of Kira Perov, wife of the artist and executive director of the Bill Viola Studio, works from the past forty years are presented through a carefully selected grouping of 15 works, beginning with The Reflecting Pool of 1977-9 and concluding with the Martyrs series of 2014, while taking in, along the way, hypnotic masterpieces such as Ascension (2000) and the works from the celebrated Water Portraits series (2013).
The exhibition is meant to be an immersive experience that takes the public through spaces whose muted atmosphere is redolent of profoundly intimate settings, veritable shrines of personal memory, a visionary space, in which viewers are able to make a deep visual and spiritual connection to the works of art. In short, a unique event that allows visitors to reflect on life while undertaking an inner journey of their own and immersing themselves in an alternate world totally different from the one they left behind when they entered the galleries.