Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Belle Époque Today: The Art of Martin Firrell

Why settle for the art world when you can have the whole world?
–Martin Firrell

St. Paul's Cathedral
Martin Firrell
During the Belle Époque, the visual, written and performing arts underwent major transformations. At the start of the “gilded age” pastoral scenes and idealized landscapes were hung in salons vibrating with romantic string music. However, as the beautiful era progressed, artistic movements such as The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood popularized a reliance on naturalistic forms and realism. Literature began to rely on stark realism and theater-goers were soon shocked by displays which would have been considered unconscionably graphic ten years prior. This was the beginning of both a return to classical forms and their adaptation to new and exciting ideas. Today, artists of all media and genres work in that same spirit. One who seems to combine many of these elements in his work is London-based public artist, Martin Firrell.

Martin Firrell

Firrell says of himself, “I have been described as a typographer, a designer, a writer, a campaigner, an activist, an artist, a provocateur, a benign propagandist, and a sci fi geek.” Known world-wide for his large scale projections of words and phrases on British monuments such as Guards Chapel, the National Gallery in London, the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Tate Britain and St Paul's Cathedral, Firrell’s goals are to arouse people’s thoughts, to encourage them to question the structure around them, to guard themselves against oppression and to explore their own sense of curiosity. He believes that art is for everyone and that each individual should be allowed to process thoughts in their own way and to develop a unique way of life without interference. By projecting provocative images, Firrell hopes to stimulate thoughts that the every-day citizen may not have had an invitation to investigate previously.

Royal Opera House
Martin Firrell
Firrell’s text-based works often incorporate pertinent images—sometimes moving, always on a grand scale, and always technically precise. Exhibitions such as “The Question Mark Inside” raised the question of what makes life meaningful. Other displays explore the meanings and consequences of diversity, religion, politics, masculinity, ageing, and heroism. Firrell’s work is unusual and exciting. To learn more about Mr. Firrell, visit his Web site.

No comments: