WhatMuseums & Galleries
Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House, Piccadilly
Tickets: £20, U16s go free.
Dates: 26 Jan-31 Mar
Discover the surprising parallels between Bill Viola's state-of-the-art video installations and Michelangelo's exquisite drawings and sculptures at this NEW hugely inspiring and reflective exhibition.
Born 500 years apart but sharing the same fascination and passion for the human form you really notice the similarities in their works as you wonder through the various galleries.
In 2006 Viola visited Windsor Castle to see Michelangelo's drawings. This visit proved to be the catalyst for the exhibition.
We were fascinated to discover that Viola nearly drowned when he was just 6 years old. He jumped into a lake in New York, lost his float and sank beneath the water. "I witnessed this extraordinarily beautiful world with light filtering down. It was like a paradise. I didn't even know I was drowning..." Viola's uncle jumped into the water and saved him but over the next 50 years, that experience has underpinned and inspired his works. Water recurs repeatedly through every installation on display which really evokes a huge feeling of calm and tranquility as you explore the exhibition. We found ourselves sitting on the floor mesmerised by the slow movement and hypnotic qualities of each installation.
From Voila we are treated to 12 state of the art immersive sound and video installations spanning his entire career including the stunning Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall), a five-metre-high projection depicting the ascent of a soul after death. This for us was by far the most powerful. We sat on the floor and watched the waterfall pull a shrouded human figure up towards the heavens and then through into a burning fire that sunk back into dream-like water. It was mesmerising.
Be warned that the first exhibition room, Nantes Triptych, shows a rather graphic video of a young women giving birth alongside Viola's mother a week before her death on a ventilator. It might be better to pass through this room with younger children.
We were also transfixed by Five Angels for the Millennium showing differing figures plunging through water in hugely peaceful slow motion. You need to be patient as some of the videos take several minutes to run through but it is most definitely worth the wait.
From Michelangelo we gazed at over 15 drawings sketched in the final 30 years of his life including some of his most poignant works as well as Michelangelo’s only marble sculpture in the UK, the Virgin and Child with the Infant St John.
A total winter tonic - we all left feeling incredibly calm. The exhibition shop is fab too.
Click here to book tickets.
Tickets: £20, U16s go free.
Dates: 26 Jan-31 Mar
Burlington House, Piccadilly
020 7300 8000
How to get there:
Tube to Green Park
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