World famous British filmmaker and artist Peter Greenaway is launching his world première of the new, spectacular project Heavy Water, a multimedia project by Change Performing Arts, especially planned and modeled for Chelouche Gallery\’s unique exhibit halls.
A multi-disciplinary artist of unquestionable genius, Greenaway is well known for his unique avant-garde approach. His art projects, such as the 9 Classic Paintings Revisited and in particular the Leonardo\’s Last Supper project, have been exhibited over the years in countless solo exhibitions and the most prestigious art events worldwide, including the Venice Biennale, Park Avenue Armory in New York, and Expo Shanghai. His cinematic work has been praised by the critics, and many of his films have become cult classics, attracting enthusiastic fans, also in Israel. Greenaway is ceaselessly exploring and experimenting in new artistic fields, such as filmmaking, painting, curating, composing, and VJing. Touched by an air of adventurousness, his art probes the boundaries of different media types and challenges its audience, spurring philosophical debates regarding the role of art in the contemporary world and in our lives in general.
Heavy Water, Greenaway\’s new project at Chelouche Gallery, is a theatrical and dramatic mix of sound, painting, drawing and video, accompanied by the issue of an art book. It elicits apocalyptic thoughts and contains an ostensibly prophetic warning concerning nuclear proliferation and the future of our planet. Obtained by an artificial process, heavy water is used as coolant and moderator in nuclear reactors. The melting of icebergs is likewise caused by human intervention in nature. These two catastrophes—of fire and water—threaten to strike before long.
Water certainly needs no introduction. We are essentially water, wrapped up in a bag of skin fitted internally with a supporting frame. Two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. We are the Blue Planet because of the vast coverage of our blue seas. The ten mile wide peel of the earth is largely water vapour. We are born in water. Water means life. Its absence means death. And water is famously photogenic; ice, snow, steam, rain, clouds, rivers, streams, fountains, waterfalls, tears, ponds, seas, oceans. It is practically impossible to not be able to get a good picture.
I have made not a few events, installations, exhibitions, films and paintings where water is the main act. Drowning By Numbers, Writing on Water, Death in the Seine, Making a Splash, Water-Wrackets, Watching Water, Twenty-Six Bathrooms, Flying Over Water. The background pages of this catalogue were prepared for a Book of Water for Noah’s Flood.
Once upon a time I painted water in an illustrational way which reaped dividends in that North European concern for landscape, that is part curiosity in Natural History and the archival recording of its variety to try to possess it and trap its ephemerality, part in that traditional search for a sense of place that is related to travel and geography and part related to perhaps that particular island-English delight in an idea of a Romantic landscape utopia.
The focus for my landscape painting was water, often starting up long rambling water-mythologies. I became a film editor and owned a camera and I made many films about water and the focus became less anecdotal. These films were at first essentially editing exercises, comparing texture and substance, light and reflection, stillness, movement. Then the substance and the mythologies began to knit together and every film I now make invariably has water in it, for drinking, washing, bathing, swimming, and for drowning.
In the last decade, global warming, changing meteorological patterns, melting ice-caps and deepening seas have re-alerted our respectful contemplation of water. Most of the paintings in this catalogue were made in a house in Amsterdam not far from the North Sea, and evidence is gathering that this house will be swept away by floods before the year 2035. The events in this year of 2011 in Japan have disturbed us all and brought vividly to our attention, the thin veneer of our control over water.
Such is the possible infiniteness of unrepeatable events, there have never been two identical waves or two identical splashes in the history of the world. Not that we could ever measure the minute myriad differences. We can turn to generalities and poetic contemplations, like the suggestion that every seventh wave is greater than the previous six, that there are more colours of blue than atoms on the moon, that most molecules of water are only water for seven minutes, that water cannot age or be born or die, that there cannot be such things as old water or young water. You can measure depth and temperature and salinity but can you measure three-dimensional rapidity and the frenzy of water. And what is transparency? And how can you realize the essential moment of water into water vapour and water into ice? What is the nature of water pressure, and how come it can be resisted? How do you define an individual storm, and an individual rough sea? Where does a storm and a rough sea begin and end in time and in space? Does cataloguing rough seas define them?
And can blue paint made largely with water define blue water, can it define the colour blue, can it be a representation of blue water, waves, splashes, rough seas, storms?
These thoughts and many like them have generated many of these images. And the elusiveness of finding an answer is as disturbing and as energizing and as rewarding as attempting to answer the child’s question of why is the sky blue.
Peter Greenaway, text from the HEAVY WATER artist book