When cinema is understood as a synonym of movement, a homage to Luis Buñuel (Calanda, Teruel 1900 - Mexico City, 1983) inside a museum - where static work is the overriding medium - can be seen as a “contradictory” exhibition, as the curator, Yasha David, puts it. With this in mind, the spaces of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía have been set up to create a “subliminal state” resembling the stamp Buñuel gives to his films.
¿Buñuel! La mirada del siglo (Buñuel! The Eye of the Century) examines the close ties between his biography and his work, listing and studying the themes, images and objects that, through obsessive repetition, are considered his cinematographic language and style. In addition, his sources of inspiration are also explored: Surrealism, the subversion of Dalí's fetishism, Spanish Baroque culture, critiques of antiquated catholicism and the transgression of traditional bourgeois morality, moving towards the limits of the binomial vice and virtue.
The exhibition is divided into three parts: “Compulsion of the Eye”, “Compulsion of Desire” and “Compulsion of Death”, which delve deeper into the obsessions par excellence of Surrealism. Buñuel adopts and widens these obsessions in a highly personal manner, even making them the basis of his work. By virtue of stills from his thirty seven films, the key symbols that illustrate the discourse of the three compulsions are: eyes, hands and skulls; nevertheless, the exhibition is also enriched by a large quantity of peers and contemporary artists that complement the dense visual collection and Buñuel's rhetoric. The outcome is an allusion to the body in its broadest sense (as a part and fragment already mutilated and dismembered), to the grotesque and the abundance of signs and symbols of death, for instance coffins, guns, skeletons and insects that devour rotting flesh.
Buñuel's iconographic and objectual universe on display bears witness to the creation of his cinematic language during the first Paris period (1925-1938), although, paradoxically, the will to break away from the paradigms of the film industry is the starting point.
The first films, Un chien andalou (1929) and L´Age d´Or (1930) represent the aperture of new frontiers of expression, with the use of the languages and philosophical and aesthetic approaches belonging to the art movements of the time that Buñuel is involved in - his links to the Surrealist group, the systematic interpretation of Marqués de Sade's writing, the magazine Documents, the influence of Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis and the writer and anthropologist, Georges Bataille, among others. From this perspective, film is considered a medium (and practice) in which the combined possibilities of narration and image are unlimited.
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