The priest and prophet Ezekiel
by Michelangelo


Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition

When & Where Friday, November 19 – December 24, 2021; 10 am - 8 pm (closes 6pm on Dec 24) | Vancouver Convention Centre East - Exhibition Hall A, 999 Canada Place

Reviewer John Jane

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (conventionally known by only his first name) is particularly famous for painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1512 and The Last Judgement, commissioned twenty years later to cover the altar wall. The later work took another five years to complete.

The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City. Originally known as the Cappella Magna, it has over the centuries, served as a place of both religious and functional activity. Today, it is universally known as the papal conclave, the process by which a new pope is selected.

Those who have visited the Vatican Museum will know that the Sistine Chapel is the final stop on the tour. By then, if you aren’t visiting clergy, Vatican security personnel are ushering regular visitors out to make way for oncoming tourists following through. I’m happy to report that visitors to this exhibition will not be rushed.

A part of The Last Judgement by Michelangelo
Photo: John Jane of a Giclée print

The Sistine Chapel exhibition offers a different experience than the Picasso Immersive Exhibition down the hall at East Convention Centre, that uses high resolution images projected on peripheral walls and geometric structures. This showing employs high definition photographs that use a specific printing technique to closely resemble the texture of the original paintings (including hairline cracks).

Of course, the main motif is Michelangelo’s interpretation of the Old Testament as it adumbrates Christ’s coming and the Resurrection. An interesting part of Michelangelo’s style is the almost exaggerated physique of his subjects, particularly the men, who are typically seen with bare torsos and exposed genitalia. For example, in the Creation of Adam, Adam looks like he has been working out in the gym.

David and Goliath by Michelangelo
Photo: John Jane of a Giclée print

Each of the 34 fresco hi-definition prints have accompanying information boards - although, I found them not to be in strict numerical order. On your way around the exhibits, you will hear chorale music like Johann Sebastian Bach’s Jesu, joy of man’s desiring and other sacred music by George Friderich Handel.

t’s worthwhile taking in the introductory video Artrageous with Nate, produced by PBS. The video takes roughly ten minutes and is on a continuous loop. It offers a light-hearted bio of Michelangelo and his relationship with Pope Julius. The monumental task apparently didn’t take a huge physical toll – the celebrated painter and sculptor died in 1564, aged 88.

© 2021 John Jane