The Garden of Earthly Delights
23 April - November 2021
La Puríssima Pavilion, Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, Barcelona
23 April – November 2021
Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner as a garden-city for the sick. After operating for a century as a public hospital, its rehabilitated pavilions are now visible in all their splendour, representing a very special setting for the exhibition The Garden of Earthly Delights by the artist Anna Rierola (Barcelona, 1969).
Inspired by the work of the same name by the painter Hieronymus Bosch, this large, colourful garden is made up of hundreds of images collected and facilitated by biomedical researchers who study different episodes and stages of life under the microscope. The images in the work represent the multiple levels of biological organization—organelles, cells, tissues, organs and functions—and show the human system and other living organisms.
In this sense, The Garden of Earthly Delights is a metaphor of life: a huge stable ecosystem based on the interdependence and connection of its elements, an open, non-linear process. For this reason, the garden is represented as a connected, harmonious, beautiful whole in which each element plays a part in a complex self-organized system. As the artist says, in life, when there is a judicious integration, everything works and there is no disease; conversely, when this relationship disappears, the system ceases to be an integrated unit, and disease and end of life appear.
Through her work, Anna Rierola invites us to delve into the mystery of life, to admire, observe and reflect on it, observing the basic functioning of biology. On another level, it also raises the question about maintenance and care of this garden, and forces us to ask how to live in and protect it so that future generations can inherit it. In other words, The Garden of Earthly Delights helps us to think about a sustainable society in which our lifestyle does not interfere with nature’s inherent ability to sustain life.
Anna Rierola (Barcelona, 1969) is an artist from Barcelona whose interests lie in science and research as means to show a unifying vision of a networked, interconnected and interdependent world. She uses scientific images obtained in research projects to compose her works.
She was the first resident artist at IRB Barcelona, where The Garden of Earthly Delights began to take shape. There, she was able to talk with researchers from different departments about order and disorder in the field of molecular biology.
Her work has recently been exhibited at Pirelli Hangar Bicocca for the Veronese Foundation in Milan. In 2019 she completed a 60-m work for permanent exhibition at the facade of the Institute of Marine Sciences in the Barceloneta district of Barcelona. Currently her work is part of Ecosistemes de l’inesperat a collective exhibition at Arts Santa Mònica (Barcelona).
The exhibition Garden of Earthly Delights was made possible thanks to the collaboration between the Quo Artis Art and Science Foundation, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site.
QUO ARTIS Team
Tatiana Kourochkina & Victoria Sacco | Curators
Claudia P. Machuca Santibáñez | Production
Marta Jiménez | Communication
IRB Barcelona Artist in Residence Team
Muriel Arimon | Public Engagement
Anna Merlos | Strategic Projects
All researchers who have collaborated in the project
SANT PAU ART NOUVEAU Team
Communications and Institutional Relations Direction / Department
Infrastructures, General Services Direction / Department
SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT (Images)
Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST)
Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia (CNB)
Centro de Regulación Genomica (CRG)
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (IBE)
Instituto de Ciencias Fotónicas (ICFO)
Institut National de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM)
Institut de Recerca Biomèdica (IRB Barcelona)