French artist Christian Boltanski's 'Sombras' opens at La Lonja de Palma de Mallorca

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French artist Christian Boltanski's 'Sombras' opens at La Lonja de Palma de Mallorca
Installation view of "Sombras" by Christian Boltanski, La Lonja, Palma de Mallorca, January 2015© Christian Boltanski; © Foto: Stefan Müller; Courtesy: Kewenig, Berlin/Palma de Mallorca.

PALMA DE MALLORCA.- "Sombras" by Christian Boltanski, who was born in Paris in 1944, is the first exhibition project in the series of installations based on light and sound at La Lonja in the heart of the historic centre of Palma de Mallorca. Built as a masterpiece of secular late Gothic architecture between 1426 and 1447, La Lonja — also called La Lonja de los Mercaderes — is among the most important and fascinating buildings on the Balearic Islands. The filigree colonnade that was used as the site of the mercantile exchange until 1830 is entered today, just as back then, through the monumental entrance gate in the main facade whose tympanum is crowned by an angelic sculpture of Ángel de la Mercardería.

On the commission of the Autoridad Portuaria de Baleares, the Government of the Balearic Islands and the Instituto d'Estudis Balearics, the historic architectural monument has been used now annually for the past three years by internationally renowned contemporary artists for a solo exhibition, comprising so far Bernardí Roig (2012), Tony Cragg (2013) and Jan Fabre (2014). The Kewenig Galerie is organizing the exhibition by Christian Boltanski in collaboration with the Cultural Strategy Partnership.

Curated by João Fernandes, the Deputy Director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, the "Sombras" exhibition of the French artist, Christian Boltanski, in January 2015 opens the winter edition which, as a complement to the summer exhibition, from now on will make the specificity of the architectural space of La Lonja acoustically experienceable. In the combination of a sound installation thematizing the question concerning the experienceability of time and shadow-plays of heavenly, diabolical and mystical figures flickering over the walls, in "Sombras" (Shadows), Christian Boltanski opens up a dialogue between his strongly biographically marked artistic oeuvre and the cultural history of the location, Palma de Mallorca, one of the most important historical maritime ports in the Balearic Islands. Taking up his vocabulary of forms tested since 1984 in his first shadow-plays, Boltanski translates into Sombras his central questions concerning the collective memory of the political past, identity, transience and time into a theatre that, according to the artist, “is not so much horrifying as it is playful”. Inspired by the mythologies narrated by the medieval walls of La Lonja, Boltanski lets skeletons and other figures of the traditional "danse macabre" dance through La Lonja, filling the room and confronting visitors with existential questions prompted by the voice of the sound installation, a repetitive recital in time.

Christian Boltanski's intensive international exhibition activity as well as his repeated participation at the documenta in Kassel, the Venice Biennale and the Manifesta in St Petersburg today places his work in the most important international collections and museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the MACBA in Barcelona, the Tate Gallery in London and the Chicago Art Institute. In 2010, on the occasion of the Monumenta, he realized the "Personnes" exhibition at the Paris Grand Palais. In 2011 he designed the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. This year Christian Boltanski will be awarded the renowned "Premio Internacional Julio González” of the IVAM — Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno — for his artistic oeuvre.

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