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The Birth of Cinema…and Beyond
An exhibition of painting and video
3 July – 21 September 2013
37 Rathbone Street
rosenfeld porcini is currently showing ‘The Birth of Cinema…and Beyond’, a themed exhibition presenting mixed-media work by Old Master and contemporary artists. The exhibition reveals in a non-definitive way how cinema has been a creative stimulus for many artists’ practices. In certain sections of the exhibition a parallel between a subject taken from the scriptures or myths will be juxtaposed with a contemporary work.
This is the third in the gallery’s series of themed exhibitions and will bring together six contemporary artists, including Aída Rubio González, Gideon Kiefer, Cesare Lucchini, Robert Muntean, Lanfranco Quadrio and Fatma Bucak alongside seven Old Master painters; Giovanni Lanfranco, Ferraù Fenzoni, Teodoro D’Errico, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Grechetto), Vicentino, Johann Heinrich Schönfeld and Francesco Solimena.
When in 1401, the people of Florence viewed the seven gold reliefs that were competing to adorn the Baptistery with a portrayal of The Sacrifice of Isaac, they had a virtual film in their heads. Aware of what proceeded and followed the sacrifice, they could understand the various narratives and therefore formal differences in the artists’ approaches to the subject – inserting the work within the framework of the whole story and understanding the differences in the narrative approach between one artist and another. This process of inserting the scene in the biblical narrative was an active one, with each person’s ‘virtual’ film differing from the next; an inevitably subjective reading filtered through each individual imagination.
Such notions concerning a visual representation of a ‘cinematic’ experience referred to the great subjects that often concerned the scriptures and the great stories of Greek mythology. Yet the invention of cinema in the 19th century somewhat removed viewers’ individual, subjective story-telling and replaced it with an ‘objective’ narrative which was instead provided by the film. In many cases, and in particular today’s more commercial cinema, viewers are no longer required to participate in an active way because an extraordinary amount of information is already provided. The film might engage us emotionally but in many cases an active, intellectual response is not required.
Clearly these comments do not relate to all moving pictures therefore, ‘The Birth of Cinema…and Beyond’will focus on the presence and the influence of the cinematic narrative in specific works; three moments from the Crucifixion by three different Old Master artists will be juxtaposed with an image by the Swiss painter Cesare Lucchini, where a large body lies dead, sprawled across the foreground of the painting. Alongside Lucchini’s work we will present a large work by Vicentino depicting the moment David slays Goliath. Beside this work is a further painting by Lucchini depicting a child soldier. Whereas David saves his people by conquering the seemingly unconquerable giant Goliath and Christ dies on the cross to redeem humanity for their sins, in Lucchini’s contemporary vision there is no such redemption.
In a further section Escape from Troy by 17th-century Italian painter Giovanni Lanfranco will face a large monochromatic drawing by the contemporary artist Lanfranco Quadrio, which depicts Acteon transforming into a stag while being attacked by his hounds. The scene reveals various different successive moments of the action; time being stretched in front of our eyes, within the context of a single drawing. This is a direct result of his exposure to film.
Johann Heinrich Schönfeld’s Rest After the Hunt depicts a scene outside a ruined temple in a country landscape where various groups of people are involved in a variety of conversations and actions, much like contemporary Spanish painter Aída Rubio González’s vibrant urban characters who inhabit Almoldovarian street scenes. Whereas the cinematic form depicts multiple narratives across endless images, these paintings reveal multiple narratives within a single work.
Work by Robert Muntean and Gideon Kiefer involve us in further reflections on the influence of cinema on contemporary painting and in the final part of the exhibition, a work by 18th-century Italian painter Francesco Solimena depicting The Conversation of Saul – a scene rich in a cinematic narrative – is presented alongside Fatma Bucak’s video Blessed Are Who Come. Her film employs as a setting the remains of a church from c.1100 on the Turkish-Armenian border where a group of village elders stand in a loose semicircle and observe a woman dressed in black enacting a seemingly religious ritual. As they comment ambiguously on the action unfolding before them, numerous possible meanings unfold for the viewer. On a formal level, the film is shot almost totally from a fixed frame therefore actively looks back to the Old Masters’ use of multiple narratives within a single image.
37 Rathbone Street, London W1T 1NZ
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