With massive screens and virtual reality, a new immersive exhibition opens in Madrid Friday in honour of Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla, renowned for his ability to capture the blazing sunlight of the Mediterranean.
The exhibition, “Sorolla through light”, commemorates the centenary of the impressionist-inspired painter’s death in 1923.
While alive, Sorolla exhibited in many of the world’s major capitals, from Paris to Buenos Aires, but he is less known today outside of Spain.
“The way in which Sorolla expresses the Mediterranean light, the light in gardens, how he approaches his subjects, it is absolutely innovative for his era and is the height of impressionism,” said Ana de la Cueva, the head of Spain’s National Heritage body.
The show at Madrid’s Royal Palace will feature many of his works that have never been publically displayed.
The 24 paintings on exhibit range from portraits to landscapes.
Two rooms have been fitted out with floor-to-ceiling screens displaying hundreds of moving images, including paintings and drawings by the artist, as well as photographs and press articles about his works, set to music.
In the final room of the exhibition, visitors can don a virtual reality headset and be immersed in a Sorolla painting depicting the Malvarrosa beach in his eastern home region of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast.
Blanca Pons-Sorolla, the painter’s great-granddaughter and one of the show’s two curators, said it was “three exhibitions in one” which aim to help people “understand what Sorolla felt when he was painting”.
Sorolla started out producing works of social realism before turning to local customs and then portraits and nudes, strongly influenced by 17th century Spanish master Diego Velazquez. He returned to landscapes in the last years of his life.
The show runs until June 30.
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