'Starry Starry Night, Portraits hung in empty halls, Frameless heads on nameless halls With eyes that watch the world and can't forget' Don McLean ‘Vincent’
Whether you’re a painting, or a person, you might do well to think on this for a moment.
Solemn corridors of art galleries the world over have become an unhappy resting place to unnumbered faces of history; nestled away in darkened corners, shadowed from the fresh full light of day for which they were created.
We aren't thinking of the privileged Mona Lisas and the like, in their much viewed and reproduced splendour, but rather the barely-noticed works of lesser consequence which so often line the walls of galleries merely a supporting act, or curious distraction, before the works of greater significance fade into view.
The undeniable emotive grip that such artworks have over us is surely down to our recognition of self within them. In a world populated with people fearful of their own inadequacy, how could we fail but be moved by such a plight?
This struck an acute chord with artist and filmmaker Julien de Casabianca on a visit to the Louvre last year. He was looking at a painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, of a young imprisoned woman that he had stumbled upon, almost hidden from view in an indifferent corner of the gallery. A thought grew in his mind; what a marvellous thing it would be if he could free this women, both physically and literally, from the existence she had been assigned to. He resolved in himself to display her on a public street, making sure that she wouldn't be forgotten in this lonely corner of the gallery any more; and so his project Outings had begun.
This nameless young woman has been granted a new home by Casabianca around the streets of Paris, being pulled from obscurity and blending in a fitting yet unfamiliar way with the city's historic walkways. After posting images of the work online public interest in the Outings has been enormous, and over the past year 18 cities around the world have joined him in liberating similarly forgotten characters from their gilded frames and given them a new level of significance by simply placing them unapologetically within the very fabric of their streets.
Isn't it strange how simply looking at something in a different light can completely alter your perspective?
Casabianca's admirable pursuit of his creative vision is certainly an inspiration, but more so perhaps are the paintings themselves. How familiar their pre-Outings plight must sound to so many people, hidden away in their own darkened corners, unaccomplished, playing second fiddle to the more obviously remarkable.
Something to think on of course, but what we particularly like about this project is the way that it showcases how even things which might be perceived as outdated and irrelevant can be given a new lease of life by clever people willing to look at them in a new and innovative way. This is quite often the challenge of the self-starter or entrepreneur; to see the potential and opportunity in the things that others pass by or simply take for granted.
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