The Guide
07 March 2023

Exhibition – Turner. The Sun is God

by Eugénie Rousak

©Photo: Tate

Foundation Pierre Gianadda X Tate – 100 exceptional works by the artist William Turner to discover from March 3rd to June 25th 2023.

If the Impressionists are regular guests in Martigny, to begin this artistic year the Foundation Pierre Gianadda proposes a journey through the work of the precursor of this movement. This is not the first time that the Foundation Pierre Gianadda has presented the paintings of this 19th century painter of light. Nearly thirty years ago, the founder, Léonard Gianadda, had a conversation with David Brown, curator of the Tate Gallery, custodian of the artist’s work. From this discussion was born in 1999 the exhibition Turner and the Alps, accompanied by the photographs of the mountaineer Michel Darbellay.

In 2023, history is repeated. The paintings of William Turner, the curator David Brown and a new series of photographs by Michel Darbellay on the theme of nature will once again meet within the walls of the Foundation. A new adventure is ready. Divided into seven thematic sections, the exhibition Turner. The Sun is God retraces chromatic experiments, artistic innovations and the painter’s view of an era in full mutation.

Setting in vision

A pioneer of the color system and an alchemist of landscapes, William Turner plays between the representation of nature and the search for emotion in his paintings. Although he was part of the English Romantic movement, he nevertheless distinguished himself by his colors, his forms and his touch. If today he is regularly cited as the precursor of Impressionism, a century ahead of his time, he developed an acute observation of the world around him. One of the first to leave his studio to make topographical sketches of nature and its meteorological phenomena, he then played with his visual memory and imagination. Sometimes he was inspired by the bloody story of the Devil’s Bridge in the Schöllenen Gorge for a dramatized representation of nature, sometimes he ventured into mythology to stage Bacchus and Ariadne in an exemplary reproduction of the landscape, sometimes he abolished the representation of reality in favor of the play of light. All of this is presented during the exhibition.

Poster of the exhibition Turner. The Sun is God. | Bacchus and Ariane, exhibited in 1840, William Turner ©Photos: Tate

Dazzling, even blinding light

In opposition to the tradition of painting on dark backgrounds, Turner worked on whitened canvases, playing on the transparency of colors and superimpositions of layers to create the atmosphere so particular to these works. While the artist was fascinated by meteorological phenomena, he developed a real obsession with the sun. The fever of the color yellow begins! The star of the day gradually took a prominent place in Turner’s work and is also the central theme of the exhibition. He even declared “The Sun is God” before his death, chosen as the title for this retrospective. That said, without deep shadow, light would not exist, so the painter juxtaposes these two phenomena, which he sees as of equal value. This theme is also developed during the exhibition.

?Sunrise: Whiting Fishing at Margate?, 1822 | ? Moselle, around 1830 | Mt St-Gothard, around 1806-7 | Stormy Sea with Blazing Wreck, vers 1835-40, William Turner ©Photos: Tate

Born in 1775, William Turner lived in a time of great upheaval, a period in which nature was affected by industrial development. The exhibition naturally ends on this duality between the atmospheric phenomena of an ancient time and the result of human activity that awaits the world! To be visited!

Painting on the header : Going to the Ball (San Martino), exhibited in 1846, William Turner ©Photo: Tate

Turner. The Sun is God
March 3rd to June 25 2023

Foundation Pierre Gianadda
Rue du Forum 59, 1920 Martigny
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