Yes, the Mona Lisa is coming to town. No, not the actual painting hanging in the Louvre in Paris, but a high-definition digital reproduction of this iconic work by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).
This masterpiece, alongside 16 other true-to-size reproductions of paintings by Leonardo – the artist, engineer, inventor and visionary extraordinaire – will be showcased in the Leonardo Opera Omnia exhibition at the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur from July 15 to August 15.
The actual paintings are housed in various museums around the world – eight different countries, to be exact.
Works such as Lady With An Ermine, The Last Supper, Annunciation, La Belle Ferronniere and Head Of A Woman have been shown on this tour.
Now, thanks to this exhibition, you can see them all in one place. After showing first in Italy, Leonardo Opera Omnia (Incredible Exhibition) began its world tour at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia in February.
This year, several prominent museums around the world have been commemorating the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death. The Louvre in Paris will host a blockbuster Leonardo show beginning on Oct 24.
Leonardo Opera Omnia, despite being an exhibit of reproductions, is expected to give Malaysians a taste of the celebrations surrounding the Italian master throughout this year worldwide.
“Leonardo is ranked among the most influential artists in history. He lived in the boom of the European Renaissance, a golden age of social and cultural change, a period in history characterised by an enthusiastic fervour towards intellectual pursuits and creativity, in which people started to question the accepted norms and to look for a new approach to life which placed man in the centre of the universe,” says Eliana Salvi, cultural officer of the Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur.
“He was a true genius, the epitome of the Renaissance Man,” she says of the man who was known to have embraced art and science as complementary fields, as he believed art could inspire science, and vice versa.
She notes that Leonardo saw the entire world – the great machine of the world’, as he called it – as a work of art that was to be studied through curious eyes, and painting as a way to understand and record what he saw, the physical world as well as the emotions it contained.
“It is thanks to this unique, revolutionary approach that Leonardo was able to leave behind a significant legacy not only in the arts, but in science as well,” she adds.
This travelling exhibition, conceived by the Italian public television subsidiary RaiCom with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is presented here in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy and the National Art Gallery.
Leonardo Opera Omnia was in Georgia, Warsaw, Poland and China before this upcoming Kuala Lumpur stop, and will thereafter tour to Bangkok and Yangon in Myanmar.
Cristiano Maggipinto, the ambassador of Italy to Malaysia, says of the exhibition: “We believe art lovers will be able to reflect on and appreciate the technical improvements that Leonardo made on the standard practices of his times. As the artist himself said, ‘Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.’ It is our hope that visitors will leave the National Art Gallery enriched by the experience, having witnessed the poetry of Leonardo’s paintings.”
Last August, the National Art Gallery presented Caravaggio Opera Omnia, which featured 34 HD digital reproductions of the Italian master’s works.
Leonardo Opera Omnia is on at the National Art Gallery, No.2 Jalan Temerloh, off Jalan Tun Razak, KL, from July 15 to Aug 15. Opening hours: 10am-6pm. Closed on August 11. Visit: artgallery.gov.my. FB: ‘Embassy of Italy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia‘. Free admission.