'TEMPEST’ - Mat Collishaw & Paul Fryer
Project for the 52nd Venice Biennale,The Gervasuti Foundation
The title refers to one of the most famous art historical images, Giorgione’s Tempest in the Accademia, Venice, which provides the inspirational basis for this new project Mat Collishaw and Paul Fryer to coincide with the 52nd Venice Biennale. They have collaborated to produce a site-specific sculptural installation and video projection in a former artisan’s workshop situated close to major Biennale sites of the Giardini and Arsenale. Giorgione’s Tempest is an enigma and art historians through the ages have mused about the painting’s multitude of symbols and 'hidden meaning'. With this in mind Collishaw and Fryer’s project explores ideas of duality, positive and negative energy and notions of balance and imbalance. What we perceive as permanent is rarely so and human life moves precariously on the edge of imbalance and impermanence which is to some extent reflected in the city of Venice where the apparent solidity of its construction belies the threat of its impermanence. Giogione’s painting portrays a soldier and a breast-feeding woman on either side of a stream, amid a city's rubble and an incoming storm. Although the scene depicted in the painting appears restful, peaceful and silent everything seems to anticipate the violence of the impending storm heralded by a bolt of lightning.
Lightning is an electric spark on a vast scale and Paul Fryer’s recent work has involved the creation of electromagnetic machine-sculptures that amplify about a million volts of power. One of these works, Deus Ex Machina, exhibited in London (2005) was purchased by Damien Hirst for his Murderme collection. Fryer’s sculptures are powerful symbols of the primal forces that form our inner and outer lives, and a literal demonstrator of those forces. Lightning was almost certainly the catalyst enabling the formation of life on earth. When activated Fryer’s sculptures sound angry and violent yet are completely mesmerizing and strangely beautiful. Like Giorgione’s celebrated painting, the sensual beauty of Collishaw’s projected anamorphic image disguises a darker undercurrent tension from the fearful yet strangely alluring lightning exemplified by Fryer’s compelling sculpture.
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