Canvases and cameras

A number of shows study film and painting's history

Barcelona -
One of the films by experimental director Chick Strand on show at Xcèntric.
One of the films by experimental director Chick Strand on show at Xcèntric.

Cinema and painting have been writing a joint history together for decades, and in recent years this has been gathering pace. Experimental film is booming like never before, reflected in multiple new initiatives and in the ever-growing presence of film in museums and galleries and of artworks tackling themes and problems that are normally the territory of cinema.

"In the last few years cinema has been the big new thing in the main collections of the world's art museums," explains Carolina López, director of Xcèntric, the Barcelona Center of Contemporary Culture's (CCCB) permanent audiovisual program. "Experimental, essay and creative documentary films are essential forms of cinema that are today moving from the darkness of the theater to the whiteness of the gallery space. It is a trend we are tackling by asking the film chiefs of some of the world's foremost collections for a personal, and at the same time representative, selection of the treasures in their archives."

Xcèntric is devoting several sessions of its 12th edition to Cine en los museos (Cinema in the museums), starting with the selection from the Pompidou Center in Paris made by Philippe-Alain Michaud, which includes masterpieces by the likes of Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Ken Jacobs, Jack Smith and Bruce Conner, along with those of some almost unknown creators. Presentations from the Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum (Macba) and New York's MoMa, among others, will also feature.

Xcèntric is also celebrating the unique figure of Antoni Padrós, whose work -- recently acquired by the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid in its entirety -- specializes in deconstructing the myths of classic Hollywood. His Shirley Temple Story (1976) opens the event on Thursday.

In order to highlight the intersection of languages and concepts that exist between art and film, gallery owner Joan Anton Maragall recently invited eight artists to talk about José M. de Orbe's film Aita (2010). The results are on show in 8+1: un diálogo entre pintura y cine (8+1: a dialogue between painting and cinema) at Barcelona's Trama Gallery that explores the connections between different paintings -- some exhibited for the first time -- and certain scenes in Aita. "Each [artist] shows a framework of their own signs on a canvas or the screen, but all converge on one big, common theme: the passage of time and its esthetic footprint," says José M. de Orbe.

The National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) and the Catalonia Filmoteca are also examining the issue with Por amor al arte (For the love of art), a season of 29 films reflecting on, among other things, the thriving mutual influence between the most artistic aspects of cinema and the most cinematic aspects of painting.

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