Bill Viola’s commission for St Paul’s Cathedral, in London, follows the great historical tradition of commissions for spiritual spaces including Henri Matisse, Sol LeWitt and Mark Rothko’s Chapels among others.
Inaugurated at St Paul Cathedral in London in May 2014, Martyrs was later joined by a second artwork: Mary inaugurated in 2016. While Martyrs showcases four hurt by the four natural elements, water, fire, air and ether, Mary centres on the religious figure.
“Mary is a universal female figure present in nearly all spiritual and religious traditions. She maintains an infinite capacity to absorb and relieve the pain and suffering of all who come to her. She is the personification of the feminine principle, related to ideas of creativity, procreation, inner strength, love, and compassion.” – Bill Viola
Premiering in the UK mid-November, Bill Viola: The Road to St Paul’s, is a deep portrait of the artist and his wife and collaborator Kira Perov. The film focuses on the 12-years of their lives creating the two permanent video installations displayed on either side of the High Altar in St Paul’s Cathedral. The film follows Viola’s remarkable story of producing, filming and realising the striking commissions.
Made by the award-winning arts documentary director Gerard Fox, the film explores Viola’s ground-breaking work over the last forty years including the 2007 Venice Biennale exhibition and sensational retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2014. Bill Viola: The Road to St Paul offers a deep insight into the creative process involved in the making of these complex, large-scale video artworks as well as the nature of the pair’s working relationship.
The film premieres at Picturehouse Central on 8 November – following the screening, director Gerry Fox will be in discussion with Sandy Nairne CBE, former Director of the National Portrait Gallery and current Chair of the Fabric Advisory Committee at St Paul’s Cathedral.