Integrated into that which during the 90s became known as New British Art, Sam Taylor-Wood (London, 1967) burst onto the art scene with solid ideas based on dialogue between the means provided by modernity -photography, video and film- and certain key iconographic traditions of western art, especially renaissance and baroque. From this pattern -extremely solid in its formal and visual order- she made loneliness and isolation, as well as desire and feasibility, the most recurrent themes of her work, all of them filtered by an aura that moves between the melancholy and the tragic.
The exhibition presented within the Espacio 1 programme from Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, includes five of the eight works that make up the series Soliloquy (1998-1999). The title of this series refers to the actor’s theatrical means used to make the spectator participate in their thoughts, separating themself from the scene which they share with other characters. Each work consists of two photographic images that follow the compositional scheme of medieval tables. On the inferior side, table and predella, while the top, a bit bigger, is reserved for images that refer to art history in composition: Death of Chatterton (1856) by Henry Wallis, The Dead Christ (1475-1490) by Andrea Mantegna, or Venus of the Mirror (1648) by Velázquez. In the lower band, in a single linear sequence of 360 degrees, the interior scene is displayed, a direct reference to the psychic universe or dreamscape of the scene and the subject that makes up the image at the top. Two planes, that establish, beyond the mere formal expression of an above and a below, a complex way to approach the subject of the portrait through the explicit interaction between the physical and the spiritual, material and psychic.
In another clearly double reference to art history and seminal stories of western culture, Noli Me Tangere (1998), she provides a powerful trompe l'oeil through the visualisation on video of a male figure who, adapted in scale to the height of the room in which he is projected, appears to support the roof. Whether he is Hercules or Atlas, his action does not hide the unavoidable tragic sense of loneliness accompanying him; more vulnerable and weaker the more heroic and superhuman his action seems.
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