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india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV

‘Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi’ on view at NGV 

 

At the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), ‘Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi’ unfolds as a spellbinding exhibition curated by the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. The show features more than 100 works by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), the leading 20th-century French painter celebrated for his iridescent palette — presented within a contemporary scenography by award-winning architect and designer India Mahdavi. Pierre Bonnard’s works are celebrated for his depiction of intimate domestic interiors, natural landscapes, and urban scenes — each one conveying subtlety, wit, and a sensuous approach to color and light.

 

In addition to his paintings, NGV is displaying a selection of Bonnard’s drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative objects, alongside early cinema by the Lumiere brothers, and artworks by Maurice Denis, Félix Vallotton, and Édouard Vuillard, his early contemporaries. The show is on view at NGV between June 9 and October 8, 2023. 

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
installation view of ‘Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi’ on display from June 9 – October 8, 2023, at NGV International, Melbourne | all images © Lillie Thompson

 

 

from domestic intimacy to iridescent landscapes 

 

Tracing his emerging artistic practice in the 1890s, ‘Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi’ at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) starts with the artist’s paintings and prints recording Parisian street life, which contain rich and often satirical observations of what Bonnard called the ‘theater of the everyday’. The exhibition then follows the artist’s career in the first decades of the 20th century, when his perspective shifted to a more domestic vision of the life he shared with his life companion, Marthe Bonnard. 

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
the 20th-century French painter is celebrated for his iridescent palette

 

 

The landscape became a primary subject for Bonnard from around 1910 onwards. Bonnard’s passion for the landscape was influenced by his friendship with the painter Claude Monet, a near neighbor in the Normandy countryside, until Monet died in 1926. For Bonnard, landscape painting was a hybrid genre and often included glimpses of interiors and still lifes. Bonnard’s life shifted mainly to the south of France from the 1920s onwards, leading to the preponderance of highly colored, iridescent landscapes capturing the light and energy of the south. It is these last paintings for which Bonnard is most celebrated; the exhibition also features iconic examples from international collections, including MoMA, New York, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
immersing visitors into the painter’s chromatic genius

 

 

india mahdavi’s spellbinding matrix of colors and patterns

 

Following Bonnard’s artistic path and vision, India Mahdavi (see more here) was invited to envelop his works in an environment that complements his distinct use of color and texture, all while evoking the wistful domestic intimacy for which his paintings are renowned. Known for her impressive mastery and combination of color, form, and texture — as apparent in the copper-walled, sunshine yellow interior of London’s Sketch gallery or her near-hypnotic polychrome striped and undulating space created in Toulon, France — Mahdavi did not hold back for this show, enchanting the exhibition spaces with a kaleidoscope of chromatic genius.

 

Monsieur Bonnard and I share the same passion for color — the way he invites us in his home and intimacy is sublimated by his very own sense of color — for this exhibition, we dived into Pierre Bonnard’s paintings and extracted some of his patterns and colors to recreate backdrops to his paintings, offering an immersive experience of a home to the visitor,’ she shares. 

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
the exhibition traces Bonnard’s artistic path

 

 

Delving deeper, Bonnard’s works possess both a sense of pensive contemplation – a wistful longing- and joy in paint’s color and mercurial nature. His strokes radiate within the spaces they inhabit, filling rooms with ‘shimmering color’, to quote Antoine Terrasse, Bonnard’s great-nephew. They also provoke a range of sensations in their viewers, from pure pleasure in the visual to a curious and reflective sentimentality in response to the scenes of domestic life. Mahdavi’s attraction to Bonnard as an artist whose work manifests contrasting moods and feelings and who creates complex worlds with color and light reveals her own approach to interior design. Designing interiors allows Mahdavi to create new worlds inspired by the site’s characteristics or setting at hand and by unconscious memories of colors, textures, and shapes.

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
‘the theater of the everyday’

 

 

In designing the exhibition dedicated to the work of Pierre Bonnard for NGV, India Mahdavi has relished the opportunity to delve further into the artist’s work, and has sought to create, in her own words, ‘an impression of his world, through my own eyes‘. Affinities in their approach to color and texture, as well as a shared interest in the domestic realm, make this exhibition the perfect opportunity for Mahdavi to meet Bonnard in the 21st-century museum.

 

The exhibition features loans from the Musée d’Orsay, which holds the world’s largest collection of Bonnard’s work, along with significant loans from other museums and private collections in France as well as elsewhere in Europe, the UK, the USA, and Australia. International lenders include Tate, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Art Institute of Chicago. 

 

These loans will be presented alongside important works from the NGV’s own collection, including Bonnard’s early masterpiece, La Sieste (Siesta), 1900, previously in the collection of Gertrude Stein and acquired by the NGV in 1949. The exhibition also features a work recently acquired by Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and Family for the NGV: an intimate domestic scene by Bonnard’s friend and contemporary in the Nabi circle, Édouard Vuillard. The exhibition will also feature and contextualize Vuillard’s painting of Bonnard’s wife, Marthe Bonnard, with a dog, in 1907, acquired by the NGV in 1955.

 

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india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
India Mahdavi recreates the paintings’ sense of pensive contemplation

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
evoking wistful domestic intimacy

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
this is ‘an impression of his world, through my own eyes’, says Mahdavi

pierre-bonnard-designed-by-india-mahdavi-designboom-19 12.39.25

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
recreating ‘frames’ of paintings

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
the exhibition is curated by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris

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india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
a kaleidoscope of patterns and colors welcome visitors of the show

india mahdavi brings pierre bonnard's works to life in enchanting scenography at NGV
‘Pierre Bonnard: Designed by India Mahdavi’ features over 100 works

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detailed view
detailed view
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detailed view
detailed view
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pairing two masters of color
pairing two masters of color
big design gestures engulf the scenography
big design gestures engulf the scenography
the exhibition features loans from the Musée d'Orsay, which holds the largest Bonnard collection
the exhibition features loans from the Musée d'Orsay, which holds the largest Bonnard collection
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saturating the space with plenty of expression
saturating the space with plenty of expression
a striking yet timeless setting
a striking yet timeless setting
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orange-infused installation view
orange-infused installation view
depicting intimate domestic interiors, natural landscapes, and urban scenes
depicting intimate domestic interiors, natural landscapes, and urban scenes
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bringing in visual, spatial, and emotional comfort
bringing in visual, spatial, and emotional comfort
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early cinema by the Lumiere brothers
early cinema by the Lumiere brothers

exhibition info:

 

name: Pierre Bonnad: Designed by India Mahdavi 

location: National Gallery of Victoria | @ngvmelbourne, Melbourne, Australia 

scenography: India Mahdavi | @indiamahdavi

curated by: Musée D’Orsay@museeorsay

exhibition dates: June 9 – October 8, 2023 

photography: Lillie Thompson | @lillie_thompson 

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