Modern art on a historical canvas

One of the digital constellations installed in Rodez Cathedral. Source: Paroisse Notre-Dame de l'Assomption

Over the years, art has continually rendered beauty and provided inspiration. Many artists today look to traverse the boundaries of time by fusing elements from different eras. With digital innovations, multimedia platforms and abstract art styles, modern art interacts dynamically with traditional forms, creating a sense of the ethereal. Here are four exhibitions where you can enjoy modern art drawn on historical canvases.

1. Digital Supernova 2019, Rodez Cathedral, France

A digital supernova installed in the vaults of Rodez Cathedral; photo: urdesignmag

French digital artist Miguel Chevalier will give France’s Rodez Cathedral a new look with the Digital Supernova 2019 exhibition, which will be on display from August 8 to 18. The artist will bridge ancient and modern art in a breathtaking spectacle of digital constellations.

Built in the gothic architectural style, the Rodez Cathedral features a stately nave of 80 metres and two transepts that span 30 metres. The cathedral’s ceiling and vaults will become a palatial canvas for Chevalier’s stunning images. Uniting the cosmic dimension with the grandiose setting of the cathedral, the installation evokes the sublime and immerses visitors in a world of infinite wonder.

The artist worked with Fabio Acero, an astrophysicist whose expertise focuses on supernovas, to create a digital supernova marked by intricate realism. Coloured lights and pictures portray the explosions and births of nebulae and supernovae, weaving an ever-changing universe that evolves before our eyes.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by music by Italian composer Jacopo Baboni Schlilingi. An algorithm blends liturgical songs from different periods to create unique variations, accentuating the exhibit’s intertemporal transcendence. The harmony between music, digital art, architecture and science anticipates an awe-inspiring experience as visitors are invited to indulge in the mysteries of the universe.

2. SuperReal, Cipriani 25 Broadway, New York City

Grand Hall in Cipriani 25 Broadway; photo:

Global entertainment company Moment Factory partnered with Cipriani 25 Broadway to launch the interactive art installation SuperReal. Visitors are invited to go on a 45-minute immersive journey that promises to be “nonsensical, grandiose and utterly mesmerising”. The exhibition will take place from August 1 to 31, and tickets can be purchased for US$24.

The exhibition is held in the historic grand hall of Cipriani 25 Broadway, covering an area of 12,000 square feet. Built in 1921, the Great Hall exudes the grandeur of neo-renaissance architecture with giant marble columns, lavish murals and painted floors, and a 65-foot-high ceiling.

The dazzle of the Roaring Twenties is juxtaposed with modern-day innovations in this surreal showcase. Five environments are on display, where whimsical settings mix the real and the virtual, and the old and the new. Features such as a 6,000-square-foot mirror, iridescent projections on marble walls and cutting-edge digital technology transport visitors into “multidimensional realms”. Prepare to have your senses subverted and your imagination challenged as you embark on this thrilling adventure.

One of the environments in the

3. Digitised Forest, Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto

A tourist admires the

The Digitised Forest, created by teamLab, combines nature, antiquity, creativity and artistry at the 1,500-year old Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. This exhibition, which will run from the August 17 to September 2, aims to explore the connection between nature and humans without causing harm to the environment. The forest consists of three sections: Walk, Walk, Walk; Floating, Resonating Spheres; and Resonating Forest and Autonomous Resonating Life.

Walk, Walk, Walk is an interactive projection that features figures walking along a river. With a real-time computer program, the installation senses visitors’ movements and creates new visuals in response; every visitor experiences a different version of the work. Based on zen values, this piece hopes to inspire reflection about learning and making choices as we walk endlessly in life.

The Floating, Resonating Spheres exhibit and the Resonating Forest and Autonomous Resonating Life installation both aim to kindle connection between humans and nature. Large spheres and ovoids are set up that change colours and emit a sonorous chime when they are tapped. The audio-visual effects help visitors gain awareness of other people and animals in their vicinity. The pastel-coloured lights illuminate the environment, creating a tranquil and pleasant atmosphere.


4. Ignis Fatuus, Château de Belcastel, France


Featuring American artist Crystal Wagner’s new work, Ignis Fatuus adorns the stony exterior of Château de Belcastel with dynamic colours. Installed and premiering in June, Wagner’s piece will be on display at the castle throughout the autumn.

With parts of the castle dating back to the ninth century, medieval culture deeply informs this exhibition. Its title is an ancient Latin phrase that refers to an atmospheric “ghost light” seen by travellers, and which was prevalent in folklore at the time. The sculpture, which took a month to construct, is composed of metal coils and fabric. The sharp neon colours adhere to the supernatural theme, while the voluminous texture of the cloths imbues the sculpture with joie de vivre.

Through the hybrid of historic architecture and abstract art forms, Wagner aims to celebrate the splendour inherent in Belcastel while revitalising the old. Wagner also hopes to explore the interaction between humans and nature through her piece by drawing attention to the verdant vegetation that sprawls over the castle’s facade, thus fostering unity between the two.

Ignis Fatuus is accompanied by an exhibition titled Hemisphere, which will be on display inside the castle. In collaboration with AFA Gallery, a collection of Wagner’s smaller biomorphic sculptures and limited-edition prints will be available for purchase.

Artist Crystal Wagner’s
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