Atelier des Lumières lights up the art scene

Aoibhín Bryant

Credit: LonelyPlanet

Hosted in a gentrified 19th century iron foundry, the Parisienne art show Atelier des Lumieres brings something completely different to the art world.

The exhibition has three different pieces, focusing on the works of famous artists, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Except, there is not a physical painting in sight, instead 120 video-projectors are used to light up every surface of the industrial building with paintings.

The three different shows last for 15 minutes respectively but they transition into each other seamlessly in a loop that allows audiences to enter at any time and enjoy the art around them.  In the Klimt show, 3,000 paintings move across the rooms, almost telling a story as classical music plays throughout. The music reflects the emotions of the paintings as they play out before the audience’s eyes.

The paintings encompass the entire room from the walls, the ceiling and the floors. The projections also cast the paintings onto your person, allowing yourself to immerse into the painting. Klimt’s iconic ‘Tree of Life’ grows before one’s very eyes as the branches unfurl in time to the music. As the paintings start to move at a rapid pace, one can almost feel disorientated. When the light flashes and suddenly all paintings have diminished, the audience is met with the stark reminder that they have been walking around a grey room. The projectors had given the illusion that they had been on an ethereal adventure.

The producers and artistic directors have taken a creative spin on the typical exhibition. In a world where technology has advanced to such a level, they have used this to their advantage in order to deliver something that is truly unique and engaging. They have managed to take a modern spin on art history. This is also a way to allow paintings to reach all corners of the world at once. No physical paintings had to be lugged from one end of the globe to the other. They have made fine art somewhat more accessible to a wider audience. The use of moving screens also proves to be just as exciting as peaking a glance at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.

Furthermore, the exhibition is available to all, young and old of all levels of ability and mobility. There is no cramped rooms or paintings to dodge. There are stairs but one does not need to ascend them to enjoy all of the pieces. Children spin around in circles and dart after fleeting paintings while the elderly sit on benches, enjoying the view.

There has yet to be an immersive art institution in Ireland. Atelier des Lumiere is Paris’ first, and that is a city acclaimed for its collection of fine art. Although hopefully in the future, Ireland will be proud to host its very own immersive show. It is something the Irish art scene desperately needs and possibly an initiative to increase public interest in art.

Aoibhín Bryant

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