ON POETRY, WRITING AND RANDOM CULTURAL MATTERS

Monday, 19 May 2014

Bill Viola at the Grand Palais

Sometimes I think I am living in a backward country - not only is this the first retrospective for this most significant video artist in France, but it is also the first exhibition by the national galleries here ever dedicated solely to the art form!

But what a show. Viola's work are so magical, you'll just have to go and enjoy them for yourself. Top tip - first thing on a sunny Sunday morning is the time when the place is empty. We walked straight in, no queue at all yesterday.

My favourite pieces were The Dreamers, The Quintet of Astonishment and Tristan's Ascension. If you like contemplative videos that demand your full, close and long attention then this is the one for you. No jump cut head pounding pop video stuff in sight and thank goodness for that.

Viola describes his practice as 'sculpting time' and this was certainly a morning well spent looking at works made from 1977 to 2013. There are hours of film for the patient, but you don't have to look at everything, just connect with what most appeals. Enjoy, really, until Bastille day, after which the groovy app is available until 2021.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Le Muguet for May Day

The tradition in France is to give Lily of the Valley (le muguet) to your loved ones on 1 May. The flower sellers are out in force today, despite the rain. Apparently this token giving started in the court of Louis IX in the early 16th century. It's rather a charming and perfumed addition to the city.