National Gallery exhibition launches with the help of Abeyasekera

The National Gallery is putting the finishing touches to its showpiece autumn exhibition, with the help of exhibition designer Karl Abeyasekera and lighting designer David McDade.

Seven rooms of the National Gallery will be given over to Renaissance Siena: Art for a City, which brings together Renaissance art that does not conform to the traditional Florentine style.

The art produced in Siena at this time is less known and less celebrated than the art of medieval Siena. The exhibition, which opens later this month, aims to change that perception. The gallery started developing the design of the exhibition last year, and engaged Abeyasekera in the spring to progress the project further, having seen his work for the British Library.

‘The John White exhibition [at the British Museum] was done with an elegance and atmosphere, and convinced us of his capability in working with both individual objects and collections,’ says exhibition curator Luke Syson. Syson says the aim of the design was to evoke the space, colours and atmosphere of Renaissance Siena, while avoiding cliché and parody.

Abeyasekera has created a Sienese Renaissance architectural space, with a gothic arch and an arcade that resembles the courtyard of a palace, to house the paintings and sculptures that will feature in the exhibition. ‘Obviously, we want to show the objects and paintings in a way that will make the most oftheir beauty, but there needs to be a balance, given that someof them are so old,’ says Syson. ‘It’s a question of balancing atmosphere and conservation,’ he adds.

Graphics for the exhibition were designed by the gallery’s in-house team. The exhibition runs from 24 October to 13 January 2008.

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