BELGIUM / Hornu: James Welling. Cento
by Modem
© Modem

until Sunday August 29 2021

MACS - Musée des Arts Contemporains
T : +32 (0)65 613 850
rue Sainte-Louise, 82
7301 Hornu

James Welling. Cento

The MACS has now invited the American artist to present his current photographic work on architecture and ancient Greek and Roman statuary.

The exhibition’s title, Cento, refers to the ancient practice of assembling fragments of various poetic or musical works. This latest series began in 2018 at the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) in New York when James Welling photographed the bust of a Roman empress of Syrian origin, Julia Mamaea, which he then reproduced in a range of colored prints using the early photographic printing method of collotype. Moved by the fluidity of the inks imbuing the portrait and the statue’s stone and returning color to the face, James Welling realized that this faded, translucent rendering achieved a twofold step back in time: to the polychrome statues of Ancient Greece and to the black & white photolithography of the first albums that documented 19th-century archaeological missions.

Yet this archaic conception of color which the photographs of Cento lead us to poetically contemplate, not least owing to their place in the exhibition, facing a wall painting of a color chart and the colors used by Aristotle, is only one destination of James Welling’s time travel. Since 1998, Welling has turned to digital technologies and the color palette of Photoshop, which offers the aesthetic advantage of “liberating color” from the chains of the subject and its historical condition. “Intense colors and gold leaf emphasized textile, hair, and skin,” Welling explains in relation to Cento and its homage to Greek statuary.

© Modem