Michael Landy: Saints Alive an exhibition originally conceived for The National Gallery, London, and presented in Mexico City by the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso and the British Council.
Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City
4th November 2014 - 8th March 2015
Saints Alive was the fulfilment of Landy’s residency under the National Gallery’s Associate Artist Programme, and the sculptures, collages and drawings he made were in response to The National Gallery’s superb collection of old master paintings and drawings.
The exhibition for Mexico has been enlarged since the first showing at The National Gallery in London in 2013, and it now comprises eight sculptures and 40 framed works on paper installed in seven inter-connecting galleries in the magnificent setting of Colegio de San Ildefonso.
As one of the most highly regarded artists working in Britain today, Landy is best known for his large-scale sculptural installations, most notably Break Down of 2001, when over a two week period he systematically dismantled and destroyed every single thing he owned at that point in his life.
Given the nature of his practice, his selection as artist in residence for The National Gallery might have initially appeared surprising, but in fact it proved to be truly inspired. Landy initially focussed on the sacred stories behind the martyrdom of a small number of saints depicted in paintings he found in the collection. After an intense period of drawing, he began to make collages on an increasingly ambitious scale which in turn led to the creation of the large-scale kinetic sculptures which, as he always intended, could be operated by visitors to the exhibition.
By inviting members of the public to engage directly with contemporary sculpture in this way, Landy breathed new life into the stories, re-animating the lives of the saints for a 21st century audience, and the exhibition in London proved to be a great critical and popular success.