The Pictorial Unconscious
The Pictorial Unconscious is an interesting and well-executed project. The premise is to show the connection between traditional painting and video art and it does so by integrating video pieces from the Sorigué collection amongst the artworks at the MNAC, each video positioned strategically to establish a dialogue with the surrounding works of art. From Bill Viola’s The Return (2007) which is placed among the Medieval-Romanesque art, alongside mural paintings taken from the Santa Maria parish in Taull, through to William Kentridge’s animated sketches found amongst modern sculptures, the exhibition illustrates the intrinsic link between the traditional and the contemporary.
In Fabrication (2010), Gregory Scott explores the possibilities of a Mondrian painting, playing with planes and shapes, deconstructing the fragments of the painting and building them back together. Also fascinating is Ger Van Elk’s Birds Flying a Drawing (2004) which takes its inspiration from the pointillist paintings of Seurat and Signac in a video in which a flock of birds fly and dip into different shapes, creating a fleeting image of a landscape which soon disperses into a new pattern. This piece fits right in to its setting, presented in passepartout framing in the impressionists room, passing itself off as a moving impressionist painting.
This fascinating exhibition shows how art history informs even the most modern medium, because, as Eric Rohmer said, “Every organization of shapes inside a flat surface, stems from pictorial art.” Furthermore, it is a chance to get to know the gems that the MNAC collection has to offer, including some masterpieces by Hermen Anglada Camarasa, Lluis Masriera, and Joan González i Pellicer.