Klee, Gaudi and Kandinsky celebrated in new Infinity des Lumieres exhibition in Dubai

The show, Raise Vibration, opens at the immersive space in The Dubai Mall on Friday

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“One eye sees, the other feels,” wrote Paul Klee in his notebooks.

The quote finds a visual manifestation in Klee’s Actor. The 1923 painting by the Swiss-German artist features a sepia-hued figure emerging from a pitch-black darkness with a toothy grin. The pupil of one eye is brown. The other is spectral. It is as if Klee’s actor is looking back at the viewer while simultaneously turning an eye inward.

Paul Klee's 'Actor' projected at Infinity des Lumiere. Razmig Bedirian / The National

The figure is projected on the walls of Infinity des Lumieres as part of the space's new exhibition Raise Vibration, which opens on Friday.

Scroll through the gallery above for more pictures from the Raise Vibration exhibition

The show is split between the works of artists Klee, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky and Antoni Gaudi, the Catalan architect from Spain.

Anna Paula, general manager of Infinity des Lumieres, says while the three may have dissimilar artistic outputs, they all shared a desire to revolutionise the definition of art.

"Kandinsky with abstraction; Klee playing with colour in a really musical way; Gaudi introducing natural and organic shapes in his architecture. They all bring a modern break and fundamentally added value to the history of art," she says.

"The biggest difference is that each of them really have their own personality and through their work, we can see what drove and influenced them — whether that’s on a personal level or from their respective upbringings."

For example, she highlights that Kandinsky is "deeply influenced by Russian culture" and that Gaudi has been influenced by his "Mediterranean roots and the sun, which illuminates all his art".

"With Klee, we see the childish aspects shine through and therefore the musical aspect is completely different from the others," she says.

His Actor looms over visitors as part of his section of the show, titled The Music Painter. It multiplies, becoming an assembly of actors formed around the space. Enlarged, their grin takes on a sinister sharpness. An eye is piercing, the other bottomless.

The Music Painter takes cues from Klee's entire oeuvre and includes figures and linework from paintings such as Old Man’s Head, And After?, Overland and Timpanist.

The music in this section complements the intensity of the show with symphonic flourishes and makes the space — the hallways, mirrors and stairs projected in motion with Klee’s paintings — all the more immersive.

"For Klee, we chose Mozart, an icon that is adaptable to every time period," says Paula. "We have merged the role of past and future together throughout the entire exhibition."

The Odyssey of Abstraction is the section dedicated to the works of Kandinsky, who is considered a pioneer of abstraction in western art.

Splotches of colour fill the space before Kandinsky's idiosyncratic lines grow on the walls in clean geometric cracks. His triangles and checkboxes line the space with colour, so does his inquisitive semicircle figure in Upward.

Kandinsky's early landscape paintings are given their due, as indigo mountains sprout behind forested gold green fields in Landscape with Green House. The Odyssey of Abstraction closes with a sea of the arced and mitochondrial figures swimming up and around the space to the soundtrack of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

Kandinsky's early landscape paintings are given their due in the exhibition. Antonie Robertson / The National

"We finish with Bowie to show that Kandinsky went beyond the years he was living in — and went further than the 20th century," says Paula.

The exhibition’s closing 15-minute segment is dedicated to Gaudi, famous for his Sagrada Familia cathedral and Park Guell. The colourfully cobbled spirals lengthen and aspects of his sculpture Salamandra form.

Soon, however, we are in the canyons of his cathedral, looking at sunlight streaming from the stained glass above in oblique blue and green sheets. The music gradually transitions from Michel Polnareff’s lively Flamenco Blaze to an operatic hymn by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. The tapered and crowned steeples of his cathedral envelop the circular space.

"We use contemporary music with a saxophone that is vibrating, complemented with strong and vibrating lights," says Paula.

The 45-minute Raise Vibration exhibition features several well-known songs from across genres — including George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, an instrumental rendition of The Doors’s Riders of the Storm and Enrique Granados’s Danses Espagnoles: Orientales.

And the 2,700 square-metre-venue's 130 projectors and 58 speakers offer an innovative way to experience it, and the show's famous artworks and architectural spaces projected through 85,000 frames.

Dh110 online or Dh150 at the door for adults; Dh70 for children aged 3 to 17, free for those under 3; more information is available at infinitylumieres.com

Updated: September 23, 2022, 11:37 AM
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