Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Agony & Ecstasy: Visual Arts on Screen

Picasso and H. G. Clouzot in the studio during the production of  Le mystère Picasso

Agonia ed estasi: le arti sullo schermo
Curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht
Cine Lumiere, Cineteca di Bologna, January 2019
A season of films about artists at work and the process of creating art captured by a movie camera. Prelude to Artefiera 2019.


Leaving the museum, gallery or the stage of performance behind, this selection of films goes a few steps back and captures the joy and angst of the creative process in which artists build, compose, propose or occasionally destroy. These films are both about the places in which art is made and the feelings put into that creation, films filled with visions which, in the words of John Berger, make one gasp – "gasp as one does before a revelation."

The programme is consisted of a prologue, two main parts and an epilogue.

The prologue is about "inspiration", films about poetic revelation and how the art of poetry is translated into images. This would reveal how these notions enable filmmakers to picture or rather translate arts on screen, arts of any kind.

The first chapter is mainly set in the atelier where chaos and creation reign supreme: Spanish artist Antonio López in El sol del membrillo, one of the greatest films about the artistic process, a contemplation on patience in creating art; Picasso/Clouzot's ground-breaking and technically dazzling Le mystère Picasso, the most well-known example of the camera directly inviting the artist to create and then voyeuristically documenting it.

The young artists, the art colleges and the shared studios are probably the greatest places in which egos, ambitions and innovations clash, the subject of a witty Czechoslovakian film, Nejkrásnejsí vek, itself clashing with post-Soviet invasion aesthetics and one of the last acts of rebellion in Czech cinema before the period of Normalisation began.

The art being affected by political turmoil takes us to the second chapter, focusing on artist in exile, under attack or even banned and deprived from the right of creating art or sharing it with others.

The epilogue, returns to the silence of a museum where we meet these artworks. This time, instead of observing the artist, the camera observes the observer, hence becomes a celebration of the art of observation, of detecting beauty, absorbing it, and making it part of our life. The agony and ecstasy of art hardly ends when the creative process has already ended.


Le sang d'un poète (Jean Cocteau, 1930), France, 55'
O Poeta do Castelo (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, 1959), Brazil, 11'
Stopforbud (Jørgen Leth, Ole John, Jens Jørgen Thorsen, 1963), Denmark, 12'


El sol del membrillo (Víctor Erice, 1992), Spain, 140'
Le mystère Picasso (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1956), France, 78'
André Masson et les quatre éléments (Jean Grémillon, 1958), France, 20'
Nejkrásnejsí vek [The Most Beautiful Age] (Jaroslav Papoušek, 1969), Czechoslovakia, 75'


Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966), USSR, 183'
Afterimage (Andrzej Wajda, 2016), Poland, 98'


Museum Hours (Jem Cohen, 2012), Austria/USA, 107'

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