Into the mind of a genius
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Into the mind of a genius

Leonardo Da Vinci's works are showcased through innovative displays and digital galleries at Iconsiam

SOCIAL & LIFESTYLE
Into the mind of a genius
The Virgin Of The Rocks. (Photos: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Following the success of "Van Gogh Alive Bangkok" and "Monet & Friends Alive Bangkok", Grande Experience, Live Impact Events and Iconsiam have collaborated to present "Da Vinci Alive Bangkok". The exhibition showcases Leonardo Da Vinci's works, featuring an array of large-scale machine inventions, a mesmerising projection gallery, reproductions of acclaimed anatomical studies and Renaissance art.

"Da Vinci Alive Bangkok" is divided into three zones -- "The Genius Of Creation", "The Secrets Of The Mona Lisa" and "Beauty Of The Italian Renaissance". The exhibition covers 17 themes for a showcase of 75 large-scale machines and 200 art pieces.

Leonardo was born in Anchiano, near the Tuscan town of Vinci, on April 15, 1452. His artistic talent was discovered when he worked as an apprentice for the renowned painter and sculptor Verrocchio. Although Leonardo did not attend university, he voraciously studied various subjects including engineering, human anatomy, physics and geology.

The first zone, "The Genius Of Creation", presents pieces such as codices, anatomical studies, early flying machines, aquatic and hydraulic machines, and horse sculptures and paintings -- The Vitruvian Man, The Last Supper, The Battle Of Anghiari, Salvator Mundi and The Virgin Of The Rocks.

One of Leonardo Da Vinci's codices.

Codices are ancient manuscripts which feature Leonardo's handwritten notes and drawings. Currently, there are about 6,000 pages. The showcase of codices allows visitors to admire these fascinating documents which reflect ideas far ahead of his time. Among the several on display, two codices -- Codex Atlanticus and Codex Leicester -- stand out.

The Codex Atlanticus is kept at the historic Biblioteca Ambrosiana library in Milan. This 1,119-page manuscript compiled Leonardo's notes from 1478 to 1519. These notes feature a wide range of topics including mathematics, astronomy, botany, zoology and the military arts.

Owned by Bill Gates of Microsoft, the Codex Leicester is the only one in private hands. It consists of 36 sheets, written on both sides, which Leonardo compiled from 1504 to 1506. This manuscript includes Leonardo's theories on the properties of rivers, seas, rocks, fossils and lunar light.

An area on flight study displays creations such as a flapping wing contraption and an aerial screw which were created based on Leonardo's designs. Leonardo analysed the flight of birds and bats and studied their anatomy to explore the possibility of human flight. He believed that if humans could develop machines that replicated the movements of these creatures, the dream of flight could be realised.

Anatomical studies.

However, Leonardo eventually recognised that the strength of human chest muscles and arms is limited and this comprehension led him to shift focus towards flying machines. He began to study wind patterns and explored the possibilities of using air currents to fly.

Leonardo's iconic painting The Last Supper is another highlight. At the exhibition, a video features the making of this masterpiece. Commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza, The Last Supper portrays the dramatic moment when Jesus reveals that one of his apostles will betray him.

Instead of using the traditional fresco method, Leonardo used the secco method which led to brighter colours and gave him more time to work. Unfortunately, the secco technique caused The Last Supper to deteriorate earlier than expected.

Located in a red room, Anatomical Studies displays 39 sketches selected from 500 that Leonardo created. His interest in anatomy revealed his fascination with both art and science. To study the beauty of human proportions, muscles and tendons, he dissected and sketched over 30 corpses of men and women of all age groups. However, due to restrictions on human dissection at the time, Leonardo was forced to work in secret and rushed conditions. His pioneering anatomical studies inspired an important human reference book, Grey's Anatomy, in 1858.

The area for flying machines. Iconsiam

Apart from the renowned Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, visitors can see a compilation of his paintings in a blue room. This exhibition helps visitors who are not art enthusiasts become aware of other works created by Leonardo such as Salvator Mundi and The Virgin Of The Rocks.

Salvator Mundi depicts an image of Jesus Christ holding an orb in his left hand while his right hand is raised in blessing. It was once the most expensive painting ever to be auctioned, to an undisclosed buyer, for US$450.3 million in 2017.

The Virgin Of The Rocks depicts the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus, John the Baptist and an angel with a rocky grotto in the background. The painting stands out with its sfumato technique which provides a soft and smoky effect. Due to its mysterious composition, The Virgin Of The Rocks can be interpreted in various ways.

The second zone, "The Secrets Of The Mona Lisa", is full of examinations and detailed explanations about the painting. This zone reveals information on the world's most famous painting from Pascal Cotte, the French scientific engineer and examiner of fine art, who was granted unprecedented access by the French government and the Louvre Museum to conduct a scientific analysis on the Mona Lisa. One of the most interesting pieces is a replica which showcases the painting's original colours from 1506. Additionally, through the use of the Layer Amplification Method, the exhibition displays evidence which reveals that Mona Lisa is not who we thought she was.

The final zone, "Beauty Of The Italian Renaissance", will bring viewers back in time to the Italian Renaissance from the 14th to 17th centuries that has greatly influenced the world of art and culture.

"Beauty Of The Italian Renaissance" is an immersive digital gallery which displays hundreds of masterpieces by some of the world's most revered Renaissance artists and sculptors, including Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Veronese and more. Even if viewers are not familiar with the works of these artists, the exhibition will spark their curiosity and encourage them to learn more about the artists and their works.

The Last Supper.

A replica of the Mona Lisa.

"Da Vinci Alive Bangkok" runs at the Attraction Hall, 6th floor of Iconsiam, until July 31. Tickets cost 1,080 baht (1,580 baht for VIP, 1,880 baht per pair and 480 baht for students, seniors and the disabled) and can be purchased from thaiticketmajor.com. For more information, visit facebook.com/ICONSIAM.

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