Throughout the centuries, humans have been fascinated with natural phenomena, and so they attributed different properties to them in order to explain them. Very often, these interpretations were bounded in spirituality, while for other phenomena it was believed that they possess magical powers. Such was the case with shadows – an occurrence closely related with sort of transformation, passage, unclear or distorted dreamscape.
It is not unusual that various artists were dazzled with the concept and appearance of shadows and the possible implications such a phenomenon provokes. The Parisian Galerie Italienne decided to present a specific survey focused on the explorations of shadow and the shift in perception of the same throughout the art history of the 20th century.
This exhibition is a result of the proposal suggested by curator and writer David Rosenberg, who is regularly producing exhibitions in France and abroad in collaboration with museums, galleries, and foundations. Namely, he was interested in the different artistic treatment of the particular motif of shadow, and ambiguity of this phenomena. This is an excerpt from Rosenberg's curatorial statement:
Shadows, silhouettes, fugitive traces or deep darkness ... A shadow is on the edge of the real and the imaginary, the tangible and the impalpable. Like a ghost, a mysterious double, an emanation; it haunts the frame of the painting and that of photography, or it extends the material of the sculpture. Eclipse or appearance: the shadow draws and sometimes takes shape. It is expanding, contracting, dissolves or accentuates according to the play of forms and light.
In order to examine to the full extent of this fascination through paintings, photographs, videos, and installations, Rosenberg decided to present a number of almost thirty modern and contemporary artists from different backgrounds and aesthetic persuasions; they span from the avant-garde masters such as Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Hans Bellmer, through Kara Walker, William Kentridge and Miguel Chevalier, to the work made by younger artists such as Alessandro Sciaraffa and Donato Piccolo – who produced entirely new works for the exhibition.
The upcoming exhibition will surely reveal how the exploration of shadow changed with time will celebrate the variety of media used to express this specific phenomenon.
Shadows will be on display at Galerie Italienne in Paris from 17 May until 29 June 2019.
Featured image: Kara Walker - Freedom, a Fable: A Curious Interpretation of the Witof a Negress in Troubled Times, 1997. Pop-up book, 27 pages, edited by Artware at 4,000 copies editions, 22.9 × 20.3 cm. Photo: © Paul Nicoué / Galerie Italienne.