by Vatsala SethiDec 31, 2022
The immersive exhibition, Monet, Renoir, and Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean , at the Bassins de Lumières in Bordeaux, France, took the viewers on a journey to experience the two critical periods in art history: Impressionism and Modernism. The exhibition immersed the audience in the canonical works created by 20 artists, including Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Henri Matisse, Paul Signac, André Derain, Maurice Vlaminck, Raoul Dufy, and Marc Chagall, to name but a few. Produced by Culturespaces Digital, the exhibition’s artistic team consisted of Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto and Massimiliano Siccardi. The team collaborated with Luca Longobardi to create the musical score for the showcase.
The spectrum of works underlines the relationship between artistic creativity and Mediterranean shores. The coastal place served as the prime hub to anchor the Modernist movement. The Mediterranean coast punctuated by the colourful villages immediately caught the attention of the French artists. Be it the Spanish border or the Italian Riviera, the places such as Collioure, L’Estaque, Saint-Tropez, Antibes, Cagnes, Bordighera, among many others, had something to offer to the creative minds. Under the warmth of the southern sun, the artists initiated pictorial modernism dotted with a vibrant chromatic palette. Inspired by the light on the southern shores, the range of painters with their tools made a variety of scenes.
Pissarro, who spearheaded the Impressionist movement, was a regular visitor to the studios of Monet and Cezanne. It is from the banks of Seine that the artists Monet and Renoir initiated a novel approach to the art of painting. Both friends Monet and Renoir were mesmerised by the natural beauty of the French Riviera – to let the canvas move across the spawning landscapes and gardens. Basking under the sun, the artists embraced its comfort to turn their paintings colourful pinned by an unmistakable luminous effect.
Iannuzzi, a digital artist and director of immersive exhibitions for 30 years, in an interview with STIR talked about the importance of having this exhibition and how it resonated with the current audience, “I think that today there is a growing demand for culture and new artistic attraction, more participatory. The possibility of accessing artistic content through sensory immersion offered by themes of nature and harmony will increasingly satisfy this demand and enrich the experience of the audience regardless of status, gender, or age. At least that is what I hope.”
The exhibition Monet, Renoir, and Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean, was also accompanied by another immersive exhibition, Yves Klein: Infinite Blue. Produced by Culturespaces Digital, it also pays a tribute to the Mediterranean. The 10-minute-long work immerses the audience in the plurality of the French artist Yves Klein’s oeuvre: the body prints with his Anthropometries, and nature with his Cosmogonies and his Planetary Reliefs. The exhibition produced from the Yves Klein Archives offers a pertinent insight into his world of arts.
With the two immersive presentations, the viewers found their point of engagement to pave the way for conversation. Iannuzzi explores the possibilities such exhibitions offer in terms of novel visual language and experience, “The ultimate goal is to put the audience at the centre of the artwork and only digital art can allow doing that. Anyway, digital technology creates a new offer that is of interest to a much wider public than the one that frequents traditional museums. Particularly, a new language that is closer to the sensibility of young people and that can be understood by everyone, even if at different levels.”
The exhibition took place at Bordeaux’s former submarine base. It is the largest digital art centre in the world. The Bassins de Lumières was created with the aid of the Bordeaux art historian, Mathieu Marsan. The archival data including extracts from contemporary films, and the projection of a German submarine gives viewers an enthralling experience to understand the construction of the submarine base from the Second World War to its current transformation into a digital art centre.
To mention, the submarine base’s surface area is three times the size of that of the Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence and five times that of the Bassins de Lumières in Paris. The Citerne immersive, a new seven-metre-high area with a surface area of 155 m2, is a place for the viewers to sit and lie down to discover the digital exhibitions in a unique manner. Along with this, the area Le Cube, an eight-metre-high area with a surface area of 220 m2, is dedicated to both established and coming up contemporary artists specialising in immersive art.
If the immersive exhibitions renew the interest of the viewers towards classical work, it also takes an immense amount of technical support to stage an exhibition of this scale. Iannuzzi expounds further on this, “Today we use up to 140 high-powered and high-resolution laser-LED projectors, several dozens of networked computers, kilometres of fibre-optic cabling and software developed to our specifications and needs. This is the technology for the show. It is like a brush for a painter or an instrument for a musician. Technology is a tool of expression, to cover thousands of square meters of images and sounds in a single immersive composition adapted to a special location.”
The exhibitions opened an opportunity to look around instead of having the heads burrowed in the screens of smartphones. Monet, Renoir, and Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean activates the sensorial perception to have a collective experience of art in a free space – this encapsulates the sole purpose of Iannuzzi’s immersive art as well.
Iannuzzi ends the interview with a hopeful note, to envision the exhibition as a springboard to experience art with original and personal interpretation: “We are living in difficult times and we have to be aware of this without giving up on ours dreams because the most beautiful dreams are the ones we have with our eyes open.”
Monet, Renoir, and Chagall: Journeys Around the Mediterranean was on view at the Bassins de Lumières, Bordeaux, until January 2, 2022.