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Expressionism: Emotions Unchained festival

Saturday, March 12


Expressionism is one of the most intense and influential movements in art. Its defining characteristic is the artistic interpretation of the emotions that arise from experiencing daily realities, rather than a portrayal of the realities themselves.

Visual art

In visual art, Expressionism arose in Germany around the time of WWI, growing in response to the dehumanising effects of the war and the increasing industrialisation and depersonalisation of society. No longer interested in producing aesthetically pleasing impressions of artistic subject matter, leading Expressionist painters, including Egon Schiele and Ernst Kirchner portrayed vivid emotional reactions through dynamic structural composition and powerful juxtapositions of shapes and colours.


Expressionism in music arose slightly earlier than in visual art. The increasing harmonic complexity of late Brahms, Wagner, and early Scriabin had resulted in tonal ambiguity, and ultimately a breakdown of traditional tonal hierarchy and expectations. With the creation of his ‘mystic chord’ in 1908, Alexander Scriabin ushered in the vibrant, highly charged, often self-referential world of musical Expressionism. Shortly after, in response to Scriabin, Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern – the Second Viennese School – extended musical architecture, and therefore audiences’ musical experiences, by creating daring compositions of heightened Expressionist intensity that stretched contextual and structural musical relationships in deeply expressive ways.


The ban on foreign films enacted by Germany in 1916 led to a rapid increase of domestic filmmaking. However, limited budgets and creative planning resulted in set designs with walls and floors painted to give the illusion of light and shadow, intentionally resulting in non-realistic, often jarring, backgrounds. Rather than adventure or romantic films, the experiences of WW1 were portrayed – betrayal, madness, dystopia – with directors such as Robert Wiene and Fritz Lang creating subjective emotional realities through distortions in expression. Expressionist film subsequently influenced directors of film noir, including Alfred Hitchcock, Werner Herzog, and Tim Burton.

Our festival Expressionism: Emotions Unchained offers a unique integration of pivotal music, visual art, and film of this energetic and vibrant artistic era of unbounded influence. You are invited to join us for four extraordinary evenings with world-leading artists.

12 – 19 March 2022

Information and tickets HERE.

12 March – Concert: Scriabin and Schönberg

14 March – Metropolis

16 March – Visual Art and Music

19 March – Concert: Schönberg, Berg, and Webern

Upcoming events

Wednesday, June 19
Untitled design (13)
Bringing together four distinct painters – Bernadette Kerrigan, Chris Martin, Daniel Pettitt, and EJ Hauser – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today explores the formal and informal ways each of them make sense of the world through paint.
Thursday, June 20
At The Box Plymouth this winter season
Thursday, June 20
Untitled (1000 × 800 px) (10)
A space to talk about creative business. Share ideas, opinions, and feelings about your professional or developing experience.
Saturday, June 22
Untitled design (15)
From mermaid purse making at the National Marine Aquarium to free bike rides at Victoria Park or crafts at Central library to immersive screenings at Market Hall there is something for everyone! 

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