Bill Viola: The Moving Portrait was The National Portrait Gallery’s first exhibition entirely devoted to video art. Housed in the museum’s newly created media galleries this major exhibition offered a new interpretation of Viola’s work, presenting it through the lens of portraiture.
Since the early 1970’s, Viola has been recognised for his pioneering use of video technology, creating works that explore the spiritual and perceptual side of human experience. His intimate studies of the human face and body depict a range of emotions, gradually revealed by his signature use of slow motion.
The eleven works featured in the exhibition came from across the artist’s career and ranged from early self-portraits such as The Reflecting Pool (1977–79), through to the room filling installation The Dreamers (2013), which uses seven plasma screens to portray people underwater in repose.
Kim Sajet, Director of of the National Portrait Gallery said, ‘Bill Viola approaches portraiture in the spirit of the artists of the early Renaissance, where personal likeness combines with universal themes of spirituality and faith. His great gift is to take age-old questions about human experience and re-present them for contemporary life.’