Madrid celebrates Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla with new immersive digital exhibition

Picture from inside the exhibition of Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla at the Royal Palace of Madrid
Picture from inside the exhibition of Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla at the Royal Palace of Madrid Copyright AFP
By Theo FarrantAFP
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As part of the centenary of his death, "Sorolla, through light," offers an immersive and unique look at the work of Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla.

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A new immersive exhibition that pays tribute to the work of the Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla has opened in Madrid, at the Royal Palace of Madrid. 

The exhibition titled 'Sorolla, through light', has been organised as part of the centenary of the Impressionist-inspired painter's death in 1923, and is scheduled to run until the end of June. 

"Sorolla through light" features massive LED screens and virtual reality experiences that provide a unique insight into the renowned painter's life and work. 

Ana de la Cueva, President of Spain's National Heritage, said that the exhibition aims to showcase Sorolla's innovative approach to the use of light. 

"Sorolla had a way of treating the light of the Mediterranean, the light of the gardens, the way he approaches the theme was absolutely innovative for the time," she said.

Who was Joaquín Sorolla?

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Corriendo por la playa, Valencia, 1908 painted by SorollaFlickr

Known to some as the 'Master of Light', Sorolla's paintings made a distinct impression on Spain's art scene in the late 1800's.

Sorolla was born in Valencia, Spain, and began his artistic career at a young age. 

He was soon considered a master of painting light, particularly in his depictions of the Mediterranean and the Spanish landscape. 

His use of light, combined with his ability to capture the essence of his subjects, gave his paintings a sense of vitality and energy that was unmatched at the time. Particularly noteworthy are his portraits of King Alfonso XIII and his family members for their ability to capture the personalities of the subjects.

Sorolla won numerous awards and accolades during his lifetime, and his paintings were displayed in some of the most prestigious galleries and museums in the world. Today, his paintings continue to be celebrated for their beauty and their ability to capture the spirit of a moment in time.

Bringing his work to life

PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP
A visitor walks passed a giant LED screen projection at Sorolla's new immersive exhibition in MadridPIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP

The new immersive experience consists of 24 original works (some of which from private collection and rarely seen in public), two sensory rooms, and a virtual reality experience that lasts for seven minutes. 

Like we've seen with various other artists including Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, the sensory rooms are created by covering the walls with led screens from floor to ceiling, showing hundreds of moving images with paintings by Sorolla, photographs, press articles, drawings by the artist, and personal writings, accompanied by enveloping music. 

In the virtual reality room, visitors are invited to put on a headset and are transported to Malvarrosa beach in Valencia, where they experience an immersive painting by the artist. Visitors are then taken to the studio of Sorolla's house in Madrid, where they are surrounded by objects, brushes, and canvases that fall from the sky and twirl around them, and they can even draw in space.

Blanca Pons-Sorolla, great-granddaughter of the painter and one of the two curators of the exhibition, believes that the exhibition is "three exhibitions in one" and aims to awaken people's sensitivity so that they can understand what Sorolla felt when he was painting. 

The LED screens "are useful to move people's feelings and make them understand what Sorolla was feeling while he was painting," she explains. 

'Sorolla, through light' is on now until 23 June at the Royal Palace of Madrid. 

Check out the video above for a look inside the spectacular exhibition.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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