Bill Viola Work Acquired By Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art

By David Prudames | 31 July 2003
Shows a still of the video work Surrender - a torso dressed in red, drenched in water, while upside down below is another torso in blue and also drenched in water.

Photo: Surrender. Diptych, video on plasma flat panel displays. Bill Viola, 2001. © National Galleries of Scotland.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has acquired a video installation by influential American artist Bill Viola, the first of his works to enter a collection in Scotland.

Entitled Surrender (2001), the silent and evocative creation has been donated to the gallery by Anne and Anthony d'Offay through the National Art Collections Fund.

One of the early pioneers of video art, Bill Viola has been working with the medium for over 30 years and is widely regarded as one of its founding fathers.

As technical innovations have become more advanced, so his installations have become more streamlined and painterly in appearance. Projected onto slim plasma screens, Surrender is able to sit against a clean, uncluttered surface, allowing the work and not the technology to attract the eye.

"We're absolutely delighted to have been given this work," said Keith Hartley, Chief Curator at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Shows an exterior photograph of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and its reflection in a lake in front of it.

Photo: located just outside the centre of Edinburgh, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. © National Galleries of Scotland.

"Surrender is typical of Viola's work in its exploration of the cyclical nature of life, death and transcendence."

"Viola has clearly been influenced by the religious iconography of fifteenth century Italian fresco painting, and this juxtaposition with cutting edge twenty-first century technology makes Surrender a remarkable work."

The installation is one of the key pieces in a group of works collectively known as The Passions and developed by Viola over a three year period. The series explores the portrayal of extremes of emotion.

Made up of two silent plasma screens hung one above the other, Surrender plays out a metaphorical baptism and two characters bend towards water, and each other, three times.

Each time the protagonists rise from the water, they are increasingly distressed and distorted. The artist has descirbed this intensifying agony as "Crying; returning to the source of the tears."

In autumn, Surrender is to displayed alongside two other Bill Viola works on loan to the gallery: Catherine's Room and Four Hands. An exhibition of The Passions will also be on show at the National Gallery, London from October 22 until January 4, 2004.

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