Bill Viola

Surrender (2001)

About this artwork

'Surrender' is the first work by Viola to enter the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art's collection. It is a key work from a group of videos known collectively as 'The Passions', which explore extremes of emotion. The theme of 'Surrender' is grief. The two figures break down into uncontrollable tears, gradually lowering their heads until their faces touch the water. But then our image of them becomes distorted and breaks up. In surprise, we realise that what we have been watching all along are reflections not substances. The work is silent and is shown on a pair of plasma screens that sit flat on the wall like a moving painting.

Bill Viola

Bill Viola

American Bill Viola is one of the world's leading video artists. Since the early 1970s he has used video to explore universal human experiences such as birth, death and the unfolding of consciousness. He is influenced by both Western and Eastern artistic and spiritual traditions including Zen Buddhism and Christian mysticism. As technology has advanced, his installations have become more streamlined in appearance and are now uncluttered by projection equipment, video players etc. His work is notable for its precision and simplicity and for its fusion of painting, photography and cinema.