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TIDES - a series of four works by Pablo Genovés

St Paul’s Cathedral, London, March 1st 2017 onwards

Artist Pablo Genovés' new series of works on the theme of water is on display in St Paul's Cathedral.

The commission by St Paul's is part of an international collaboration, Just Water, showcasing art and events inspired by water on display in cathedrals and churches around the world in 2017.

Water brings life and death, rebirth and harvest, flooding and drought, as it ebbs and flows across our planet. Fundamental to the rituals of all religions and symbolic of life itself it is a more than fitting theme for St Paul’s.

The Spanish artist, who is based in Berlin, works with Wren’s neoclassical masterpiece in this series rather than his signature Baroque, which in his previous work  provided a metaphor for decadence and hubris.

Writer/artist Catherine Phelps said: "However the clean lines and harmonious order of musically repeating arches and spheres provide the perfect counterpoint to the cacophony of nature’s chaos as it swells and rises in the familiar interiors. Formal contrasts are drawn between the vertical structured architecture and the amorphous horizontal bodies of water and mist. Two great forces, order and chaos, trapped together on the work’s surface, destined to battle by definition.

"The four pieces on display are ‘Altar’, ‘Balcony’,‘Nave’, and ‘Dome’. In ‘Altar’ marble angels seem to scurry upward to escape the rising water, perching on the domed altar canopy like an unfortunate family waiting for rescue from flood, a carved wooden filial floats in the middle ground like an untethered buoy. In ‘Dome’ small white cumulus, straight out of Tiepolo, vainly rise upward looking for escape from the dark shadow of a closing eye that ominously echoes the circle of the famous dome. In ‘Nave’ the lights of the church are still burning above the water level; about to be engulfed, they are evidence of a very recent human exodus.

"All this destruction of culture by nature should be terrifying, and it is, but the beauty of Wren’s extraordinary monument to God’s Glory and human hope with great masses of tidal energy, make the images exciting, even uplifting. They rouse us like a great swelling symphonic last movement that is about to end in a series of thunderous chords…. followed by silence."

St Paul's Chancellor Canon Mark Oakley, who is responsible for the Cathedral's visual arts policy, said: "St Paul’s is delighted and disturbed to have Pablo Genovés’ works in the nave.

"Water is essential to the life of the world and, because of climate injustice, is now through excess or absence threatening that life. This reality resonates with the Christian tradition where water can be seen as a chaotic and destructive force but also, in tune with God’s Spirit and a responsive community, the source of new life.

"During Lent, Sunday sermons will be preached at 3.15pm to explore the geopolitical, environmental and theological vitality of water and to have Genovés’ works alongside us will provoke, we hope, not just our thoughts but our action to stop our self-destruction through unsustainable behaviours.

All works courtesy Paul Stolper Gallery, London 2017