Thursday, October 12, 2017

Bill Viola’s decades-spanning video art show in Guangzhou a spiritual pleasure that freezes the viewer to the spot

By Enid Tsui

2018 Alpha Omega Prize Finalist:
A still from Bill Viola's "A Quintet of the Astonished" (2000) on view in Guangzhou, China
GUANGZHOU---You cannot get a more secular venue than a Soviet-style former canning factory that used to churn out the deliciously pungent Guangdong staple of fried dace and black beans. Yet, oddly, the 1950s industrial cluster in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is somehow a fitting place to contemplate American artist Bill Viola’s spiritual images. [The] exhibition is not a comprehensive retrospective. But the range of videos – dating from 1977 to 2014 – does make this a major survey of an artist who has so profoundly elevated video to fine art. The duality between death and birth, reality and illusion, and the use of water as a recurring metaphor were all there. [More]