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Design for a large clock in the Louis XV style, representing The Sun Rising over the Desert, 2012, Pablo Bronstein Design for a large clock in the Louis XV style, representing The Sun Rising over the Desert, 2012, Pablo Bronstein

Pablo Bronstein reframes the past for Nottingham Contemporary s interpretation of The Grand Tour. Francesca Donovan reviews.

Nottingham Contemporary has been transformed. The once white walls of Gallery 3 are painted the deepest of blue; the sort of blue you could drown in. The colour of noble blood. And how appropriate; The Grand Tour, an art extravaganza spreading across a four venues and two counties, begins with Pablo Bronstein and the Treasures of Chatsworth House.

The exhibition opens here - in Gallery 3 - with Pablo Bronstein s artistic depictions of the house; one of the grandest and wealthiest stately homes in history. This room serves to contextualise the Aladdin s cave in store. You might see this as an easy entry point. As someone who visited Chatsworth House as a child, and gallivanted around its parks and marvelled at its splendour, initially the pieces don t quite do the estate justice for me. But perhaps this is more down to rose-tinted spectacles and the haze of my own memory than any of Bronstein s shortcomings. In reality, Bronstein has produced impressive architectural drawings of Chatsworth. Far from falling flat, the clean lines inject youth and light into the Duke of Devonshire s ancestral pad. The digital reconstructions allow the viewer to encounter Chatsworth from previously unseen perspectives. We become the masters and mistresses of this great edifice. We are in control rather than in its shadow. This digitisation is reflective of how modern technologies have come to rule over ancient hierarchies, acting as one of the twenty first century s great levellers.

Your very own Grand Tour continues in Gallery 4. A towering white neo-classical monument dominates, from which blazes the reflective surfaces of silver and Delftware - blinding, dazzling. Bronstein has selected some of the finest silver pieces in the Devonshire collection; in total, Chatsworth has loaned Nottingham Contemporary over 60 pieces, which is the largest donation for 30 years. The structure displaying the pieces is reminiscent of the power architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, carved from stone and marble. However, the white wipe down surfaces would not look out of place in a modern chrome-clad kitchen in Scandinavia. It frames the Regency candelabra and soup tureens in modernity, making their beauty all the most significant through their newfound relevance to our era.

Drapes in the William Kent Style, 2012, Pablo Bronstein Drapes in the William Kent Style, 2012, Pablo Bronstein

Gallery 2 encourages an intimate reflection on the array of works nestled into the gloom. Now, the unrivalled quality of the Devonshire collection becomes apparent. Bronstein said choosing objects for the exhibition was a focussed process; he declined the opportunity to show drawings by the likes of Raphael because he didn t want to construct aBest of Chatsworth show. Instead he was drawn to the na ve charm of the objects he selected, captivated by their desire to impress the beholder. And still, Gallery 2 holds sketches by Rembrandt, a preparatory crucifixion drawing by D rer, a sketched plan for the Queen s House, Greenwich by Inigo Jones. Bronstein has shown remarkable restraint when selecting works, and credit to him. He pulls together some of the most enigmatic works from Chatsworth, showing the public the true value behind the estate s stony fa ade and inviting us in for what may just be the most inclusive Grand Tour.

This gallery offers your first glimpse into Bronstein s practice. His process explores historical architecture and the decorative arts, reframing them through his highly detailed drawings. Bronstein's strength lies in his ability to reference history and architectural grandeur as a means to drawing our attention to current concerns. Works such as Design for a large clock in the Louis XV style, representing The Sun Rising over the Desert (2012) lay bare the exuberance of the Baroque. Drawing on the style and taste of the epoch, and amalgamating those ideas into a contemporary gallery forces us to question the development of taste and the rationale behind the clear display of individual power and wealth through objects.

Large Building with Courtyard, 2015, Pablo Bronstein Large Building with Courtyard, 2015, Pablo Bronstein

Bronstein s artistic skill takes centre stage upon entering Gallery 1. Returning to the notion of ostentation that correlates with The Grand Tours taken by the elite, Bronstein has constructed a new series of works that run along the entire diameter of the gallery. They are his largest and most impressive drawings to date. The drawings mix intense realistic architectural details and empty white space; slabs of ruined marble, Corinthian columns lying cracked and lopsided and decapitated busts depicting great men of the continent are superimposed within the outlines of monuments and temples. The Via Appia, the earliest and most strategically important road leading away from Rome, inspires Bronstein s work. Once this magnificent road fell into ruin artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael planned to recreate and restore the Via Appia. They incorporated fantasy elements into their restoration, giving new life to a dead space. Bronstein works in a similar way, alluding to the long history of capriccio, or architectural make believe. Imagining the last gasps of the Roman Empire, Bronstein creates a link between the edifices of old, the architectural school they belong to and the present day.

I saw Pablo Bronstein and the Treasures of Chatsworth House in the same week that Alex Farquharson was named director of the Tate. It is easy to see why he has been given this accolade, having just left the helm of one of the UK s most exciting institutions. Nottingham Contemporary is a gem. Admittedly, this exhibition looked ever so slightly dull on paper; Chatsworth has been done to death. Of course it has. It is a treasure trove of works that are of incomparable value. I expected a staid display of unfamiliar objects, unreachable by my imagination. But Nottingham Contemporary and Pablo Bronstein have concocted a new and relevant way of viewing these works; a new framework and a fascinatingly beautiful exhibition.

Pablo Bronstein and the Treasures of Chatsworth House runs from 4 July 20 September at Nottingham Contemporary, Chatsworth House, Derby Museums and The Harley Gallery

www.nottinghamcontemporary.org