Bill Viola / Michelangelo: Life, Death, Rebirth, Royal Academy of Arts - ★★★ - Until March 31, 2019


Is this an exhibition, a conversation or even a meditation? Actually it’s all three. In the darkened main rooms of the Royal Academy we navigate - sometimes awkwardly - past Bill Viola’s large video screens and Michelangelo’s drawings. The parallels with being in a cathedral are clear. And the subject matter is suitably heavyweight: essentially, the cycle of life. Viola frequently employs diptych and triptych formats. Water features a lot, usually suggesting ritual or redemption. The intention is to provide an immersive experience: would the content work as well scaled down? Veils in one piece offer relief from the hard-edged technology elsewhere. Michelangelo’s drawings are on a much smaller scale and require closer examination. They were made late in his career and if the themes of mortality and transcendence weren’t obvious enough, the curator hammers them home for us. Some of the draughtsmanship is breathtaking: how were such effects achieved using chalk? Occasionally (heretical idea) it’s a bit naff! The ‘Taddei Tondo’ sculpture of the Virgin and Child displays a very human bond but also Christ’s mortality. It is this duality of the physical and the spiritual that connects both artists. A stimulating dialogue between very different approaches, if a rather gloomy one.

Reviewed by A.L.


 Our Score:  ☆☆☆ 

WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until March 31, 2019
Daily: 10 am - 6 pm (last admission: 5:30 pm)
Fri: 10 am - 10 pm (last admission: 9:30 pm)
Royal Academy, Main Galleries, Burlington House
Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus
https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/bill-viola-michelangelo

Most Popular

Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons ★★★★ Harold Pinter Theatre | Jan 18 - Mar 18, 2023

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton ★★★ The Pheasantry | January 13 &14, 2023

George Takei's Allegiance ★★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Jan 7 - Apr 8, 2023

We'll Always Have Paris ★★★★ The Mill at Sonning | Jan 19 - Mar 11, 2023

Two Billion Beats ★★★★ Orange Tree Theatre | Jan 20 - Feb 4, 2023

Newsies ★★★★ Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre | Until April 16, 2023

In the Net ★★ Jermyn Street Theatre | Jan 12 - Feb 4, 2023

On The Ropes ★★★★ Park Theatre | Jan 7 - Feb 4, 2023

The Ghosting of Rabbie Burns ★★ King's Head Theatre | January 3 - 14, 2023

Love Goddess, The Rita Hayworth Musical ★★★ The Cockpit | Nov 18 - Dec 23, 2022

The City Life Magazine | Reviews & Ratings