Viola was one of the first artists to use film and video in a Fine Art context. He has continued to utilise progressively more advanced equipment to create works in which the technology is secondary to the subject. This allows for the focus to be given to his images which are presented simply, like moving paintings.
Influenced by Western and Eastern art history and spiritual practices, Viola’s work frequently evokes mystical or religious experience. Catherine’s Room is based on a fourteenth century predella by Andrea di Bartolo. It presents scenes from the life of St Catherine across a sequence of five screens, using contrasts of light and dark to dramatic effect. Four Hands concentrates on actions made by a pair of disembodied hands reminiscent of Indian ‘mudras’, the symbolic gestures of Buddhist and Hindu religious iconography.
Both works characterise the more intimate aspects of Viola’s practice, which can be contrasted with his monumental projects dealing with universal themes of birth, death and regeneration.