Press Release of Mudam Luxembourg
This solo exhibition devoted to the work of acclaimed artist Tacita Dean, which is presented across the two galleries on the upper floor of the museum, is formed around two recent projects: a trilogy of works designed for The Dante Project (2021), a ballet inspired by The Divine Comedy, and One Hundred and Fifty Years of Painting (2021), a 16mm filmed conversation between the artists Luchita Hurtado and Julie Mehretu.
Since the early 1990s, Tacita Dean (b. 1965, Canterbury) has developed a singular body of work using multiple mediums, like film, photography and sound; drawing, printmaking and collage. Encompassing a diverse array of subjects, her work is characterised by a careful observation of time, a keen attention to history and a love of the fine details in life. Dean also welcomes chance as one of her guiding principles. A great believer in the non-
The East Gallery brings together the original artworks used in the stage sets for the ballet The Dante Project, which premiered at the Royal Opera House in London in October 2021. Dean designed the sets and costumes for a ballet choreographed by Wayne McGregor (b. 1970, Stockport) with an original score by the composer Thomas Adès (b. 1971, London). The Dante Project is based on Dante Alighieri’s (b. 1265, Florence – d. 1321, Ravenna) The Divine Comedy and staged in three parts, representing Dante’s journey through the realms of the dead – Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.
Using a distinct medium for each act – drawing, photography and film – Dean’s set designs moves from negative to positive, monochrome to colour and from representation to abstraction, plotting Dante’s passage through the underworld. Inferno (2019) is the largest blackboard drawing Dean has made to date and depicts an inverted frozen mountain landscape in negative.
Taking inspiration from the cold environment described by Dante, Dean conceived a versatile netherworld where the souls dance beneath a low ceiling. Above them, a small mirrored ellipse righted the inverted mountains revealing a glimmer of the normal world, unattainable to the damned. Purgatory (Threshold) (2020) is a large-
Photographed using an 8 x 10 analogue camera, Jacaranda trees – with foliage that turns completely purple in the spring – are depicted in prints that reverse the negative to a positive, turning the distinctive violet flowers into an other-
In the centre of the gallery is a pavilion housing the 35mm film Paradise (2021), the final work of the trilogy. It is the first time that Paradise is being shown as an artwork outside of its staging in the ballet. The soundtrack is a digital simulation of Thomas Adès’s orchestrated score Paradiso. Known technically as a MIDI, the computer simulation became an invaluable tool while the orchestra were unable to record the music during the Covid-
Other works associated with The Dante Project are also exhibited, including two artworks from the Purgatory series entitled Purgatory (Mounts I & II) (2021) and an eight-
West Gallery and Small West Gallery
The second half of the exhibition is formed around Tacita Dean’s 16mm film One Hundred and Fifty Years of Painting (2021) shown in a specially designed pavilion that also includes two paintings by the artists featured in the film: Luchita Hurtado (b. 1920, Caracas – d. 2020, Santa Monica) and Julie Mehretu (b. 1970, Addis Ababa). The film is a conversation between the two women and came about because of their friendship with Dean. Realising that both painters shared a birthday – November 28 – and that Luchita would be turning one hundred in 2020 on the same day that Julie would be turning fifty, Dean filmed them chatting together in Luchita Hurtado’s apartment in Santa Monica on 3 January 2020. The title is deliberately hyperbolic and belies an intimate situation where both women talk freely about life and death, about being immigrants in the US, about motherhood, climate change and of course, about painting. The two paintings presented here, Hurtado’s ‘Sky Skin’ painting Mascara (1975) and Mehretu’s Hineni (E.3:4) (2018), are discussed in the film.
Dean’s lithograph series made with master printers Gemini G.E.L. in Los Angeles, LA Exuberance (2016) and LA Magic Hour (2021), hang on the walls surrounding the pavilion. Made without photography from drawings, the prints exemplify Dean’s delight at the Los Angeles sky upon her arrival from Europe. Alongside these are six small recent slate drawings taking the Los Angeles sky as their theme. Showing in the Small West Gallery is Buon Fresco (2014), a film of Giotto’s (b. 1266, Vespignano – d. 1337, Florence) frescoes in the Upper Basilica of St Francis of Assisi in Italy. Filmed with a macro lens at close quarters, the eye of the camera gives the viewer a privileged view of Giotto’s frescoes, highlighting the exquisite detail and the artist’s painterly craft.
Premiered at the Royal Opera House in October 2021, the ballet The Dante Project will be presented at the Palais Garnier in Paris from 29 April to 31 May 2023.
Exhibition 09 July 2022 -
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