21/07/2015 0 Comment(s)

So, as out there creative creatures, soaking up everything from film to music, The National Gallery’s current ‘Soundscapes’ exhibition - inviting viewers to experience paintings in aural way - naturally appealed to our musical and artistic senses.


The National Gallery commissioned six musicians (in the broadest sense of the word) to create new music and sound installations in response to paintings from their permanent collection. The exhibition is diverse in art and in sound; the decision to use a range of musicians, from contemporary composers to sound artists, with works spanning over 500 years, engaged the audience with a fresh perspective to their collection. It's a difficult task to create a musical composition for a piece of painting but the caption “hear the painting, see the sound” promised much.


The highlight of the exhibition was Gabriel Yared’s composition for Cézanne's Les Grandes Baigneuses, which truthfully recreated the atmosphere of a late nineteenth century French boudoir. Jamie xx’s piece for Théo van Rysselberghe’s Coastal Scene was brilliantly executed, at once replicating the pointillist technique but also creating a serene atmosphere for the piece.


Paul Cézanne, Les Grandes Baigneuses, 1894-1905


How someone interacts with a painting through sound is a very subjective process but ‘Soundscapes’ manages to create an enhanced atmosphere for each of their paintings. With research suggesting we only look at paintings on average of 17 seconds, ‘Soundscapes’ not only provides another sense to experience the painting, but creates more time to engage with it, visually and aurally.


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