A series of large-scale kinetic sculptures by Michael Landy, current Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist in residence at the National Gallery, bring a contemporary twist to the lives of the saints. Exhibition appears until 24 November 2013.
Exhibition notes – Michael Landy – Saints Alive
Well, it’s certainly noisy. And funny. Although, I am not quite sure I’m supposed to be laughing out loud when a giant beleaguered headless saint is whacking himself in the chest with a rock. Or when I put a coin in St Thomas’s money box, he uses a crucifix to slap his own forehead.
It all is a bit silly but then isn’t that what Landy is trying make us consider? Perhaps he’s reminding us how ridiculous (and how awful) religious beliefs (or believers) can be. Through this set of interactive sculptures we can have a glimpse of what people can do to themselves (that is, if they are not torturing others in the name of some G-O-D or another).
In any case, the whole raison d’etre behind the Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist-in-Residence appointment is to draw attention to the vast collection of Old Masters in the National Gallery. I have to admit, it worked for me. I don’t normally enjoy or appreciate Gothic paintings but since Landy made a few of them into animated 3-D representations, it is easier to see in a towering monster sculpture than in a tiny still painting what Christian saints were on about.
Now that I can see how it might be done, it is easier to believe that people really did beat themselves with rocks or yank their own teeth out as a penance for their sins. *shudder* If you have a spare 10 minutes, like slapstick comedy mixed with irreverence for Christianity, this might the exhibition for you.
- Click link to view the Press Release from Michael Landy: Saints Alive
Download PDF version: Press Release – Saints Alive (PDF)
- National Gallery website information about Michael Landy: Saints Alive
- Richard Dorment of The Telegraph reviews ‘Saints Alive‘ 4/5 stars – “Landy has recognised the absurdity of the legends and caught the affection with which Renaissance artists portray the saints, treating even the most gruesome martyrdom not as a gore-fest but as a metaphor for virtues like patience, faith, or endurance.”
- The Guardian – Laura Cumming reviews Saints Alive – “These sculptures take you into the paintings, but above all into the lives of the saints, in the most eye-popping, nerve-touching, heart-wrenching way.”
- The Evening Standard review of ‘Saints Alive’ by Brian Sewell – “This is an exhibition that should not have happened and the hapless Landy should not have been persuaded against his honest initial scepticism — ‘Before we go any further,’ he said when interviewed by the panjandrums of the gallery, ‘can I just make sure that … you know what I do?'”
- Friere Barnes of TimeOut London interviews Michael Landy
- Philip Maughan of The New Statesman reviews Saints Alive – “Bloody carnage brought to life and mechanised”
- Michael Landy talks about his recent exhibition ‘Saints Alive’ – Video
Exhibition details: Michael Landy – Saints Alive is at The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N from 23 May through 24 November 2013. Admission free (with limited capacity for safety and comfort of guests).