Old master, new view

An up close and personal look at Leonardo da Vinci's works in River City Bangkok

Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper at 'Leonardo Opera Omnia'. (Photos by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The great Italian Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci died in France 500 years ago at the age of 67. Yet masterpieces created by the world-renowned art maestro continue to have a mesmerising hold over art lovers of all ages and nationalities.

Now art enthusiasts in Thailand have a rare opportunity to witness the artist's most celebrated pieces in the exhibition "Leonardo Opera Omnia", which runs until Oct 7 at River City Bangkok. The exhibition features high-definition digital prints of the art legend's works -- a fitting tribute to the iconic Renaissance creator of The Last Supper and Mona Lisa.

Organised by the Embassy of Italy in Bangkok and Rai Com in collaboration with the River City Bangkok, "Leonardo Opera Omnia" presents a uniquely designed art spectacle consisting of 17 of da Vinci's most celebrated masterpieces, reproduced in digital form and in the exact dimensions of the original artworks, including the Mona Lisa, L'Annunciazione and The Last Supper.

Putting together da Vinci's artworks for this exhibition was a real challenge, said Matteo Ive, an Italian architect tasked with the project in Bangkok.

"The biggest hurdle I suppose is the logistics that go into an exhibition that is on a world tour. Every month there is a new date, a new opening in a different country, so to reach our deadline my team and I have to be at the top of our game while planning, transporting and setting-up and dismantling the exhibition each time," said Ive.

Setting up the exhibits is a collaborative work between a number of highly experienced professional photographers whose skills in reproducing the artwork of the Italian legend in high resolution form offer an enthralling experience for the audience.

"Another aspect of my work that can be challenging is the manner with which we need to re-adapt each time the exhibition is taken to a new location, which comes with a diverse environment. Furthermore, crucial for the success of the show is the lighting that must be projected and readjusted as well according to the exigencies of the venues we happen to be at," he added.

Matteo Ive.

The exhibition's backlighting system stands out as it adjusts the light intensity and colour temperature of da Vinci's works. This is the first time his work has been presented with these enhancements, providing a truly unique experience for visitors.

Sophisticated digital techniques used in the presentation of each exhibit offer a fresh outlook into the art master's world famous paintings.

What makes da Vinci such a formidable art talent to this day was his unique ability and skill to observe and illustrate, which further helped him to recreate the outcome of what he saw in nature. This added a certain liveliness to his portraits that to this day both fascinate and mesmerise.

Art biographers describe the gifted painter, who was also a sculptor, architect and inventor, as being fuelled by curiosity, constantly attempting to explain what he saw. The fact that he habitually wrote down and sketched numerous of his observations tells us that the Tuscany-born artist was among the very first to take a scientific approach towards understanding how our world works and how humans see it.

Among his numerous attributes we find that da Vinci was a brilliant intellect who mastered the laws of science and nature, which immensely impacted the work he set out to accomplish. His drawings, paintings and other works continue to influence countless artists and engineers to this day, making it all the more a must to not miss this high definition digital painting exhibition on da Vinci's work.

In setting up the exhibition, Ive said the first step was to obtain the authorisation to photograph da Vinci's artworks from museums that are in possession of his paintings.

"After removing the protective glass from the paintings, our team of photographers worked closely with art experts to take digital pictures of the paintings which were afterwards printed on special canvas with top innovative technology printers, and then framed with special wooden frames," he said.

"The pictures are the same size and colour as the originals. A proper study is conducted prior to recreating the same identical shadow and light found in the originals. To render the photos perfect, they are provided with special rear LED lighting that can be regulated to reach the exact level of light and shadow found at the venue the exhibition is held."

A digital print of Mona Lisa.

Ive said his favourite part of this exhibition was the opening, when the audience celebrates the legendary artist's life through text and photos.

He called the exhibition a unique project and different in nature from his previous assignments. "It stands out for its peculiar technology, not to mention the subject matter being none other than globally recognised genius Leonardo da Vinci's. His masterpieces are some of the most appreciated by art lovers across the world."

The Italian architect said he hoped the exhibition could serve as a bridge to better acquaint both experts and neophytes with Italian art and culture. Maybe it could even encourage visitors to study and know more about Italian history and creativity found in art and fashion.

"This exhibition should not be considered purely for its entertainment, but rather an opportunity to develop an interest in the knowledge of Italian artists; and what better way to start with than da Vinci himself.

"Leonardo is well known all over the world for his projects and inventions. However, apart from the Mona Lisa, I believe few know him for his paintings, so I am eager to have contributed to spreading his art.

"His willingness to create and thirst for knowledge are a source of inspiration for my own career."


"Leonardo Opera Omnia" is open to the public until Oct 7 at the River City Bangkok on Charoen Krung 24. Visit facebook/RiverCityBangkok or call 02-237-0077.