'Pictures at an Exhibition', the narrative composition by Mussorgsky, was inspired by the musician's visit to an exhibition of Victor Hartmann's drawings and watercolours. The exhibition had been mounted following the death of Victor Hartmann, an architect, and friend of Mussorgsky.
Mussorgsky's composition consists of ten movements, each based on a painting at the exhibition, with a recurring tune throughout the piece that represents the visitor to the exhibition.
Cristina Rodriguez, who knew Mussorgsky's composition well, decided to research the original inspiration of the piece, the pictures of Victor Hartmann. She was surprised to find that the richness and depth of Mussorgsky's music was not matched in the works of Victor Hartmann. Perhaps Mussorgsky's music was enriched as much by his affection for, and memories of, his good friend, as by the quality of the works.
Cristina Rodriguez decided in a sense to reverse the story; to start with Mussorgsky's music, and produce ten paintings from the ten movements.
The ten paintings became Cristina Rodriguez's degree show in 1987, and set her on her career as a narrative painter. It was formative also in that Cristina Rodriguez worked closely with the space for her exhibition, producing works that related to it; a video about the story, the design of the invitation. For Rodriguez, the exhibition itself has always to be a memorable experience.
View the invitation here.
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