Monday, 24 May 2010
I saw Grayson Perry's show "The Walthamstow Tapestry" at the Victoria Miro gallery, it was fantastic. Immediately when entering the room you are struck with the presence of the awesome tapestry of monumental scale which dwarves everything else. The piece just oozes quality and attention to detail which makes it very easy to get lost in its many minor elements. I found myself studdying it for ages, first from a far, then up really close, both have a different charm. The tapestry was a woven statement on the consumerist society in which we live
It chronicles the birth life and death of the modern day consumer and the vast array of brands and and companies which they will use and associate with throughout their life. For me it conjured up many similarities with the Bayeux tapestry, from the line and figure style to the epic stretching narrative which trails its way through numerous sub scenes and little distractions. This was an interesting idea and really made me think, well, why was the medium of tapestry chosen to depict the scene, why not a painting or drawing. to be quite honest it must have been one of the first contemporary art exhibitions I'd been to which featured a full wall length tapestry and china vases depicting rather grotesque women and astronaughts riding motorbikes. But i enjoyed it a lot, it was different.
Another piece i particularly liked from the show was a panoramic scene created with three large etchings which linked up together. The scene showed an intensely detailed and meticulous landscape, in which there were civilisations acting out what appear to be scenes from history and life. There are settlers landing, people growing food, building being built, war torn cities and battlefields which all blend seamlessly in with each other. Interestingly each group of people have miniature labels which name that group as "scientists" "perverts" "fitness fanatics" "Satanists" "cool people" "professionals" and the list goes on. This adds another dimension to the work in that there is usually a humorous juxtaposition between what the group is doing and what their label is. Its is a genuinely beautiful piece, I think my favourite from the show and one you could in all seriousness spend hours studying, which given more time I would have loved to do.
One of the best exhibitions I've seen this year I'm embarrassed to say I don't actually know who the artist was. The work was fantastic and i found it really influential, one of those moments when you just stumble across something you completely love. The work seemed to be the artists train of thought as he attempted to decipher the world we live in and work out what's going on around him. I got a sense that they didn't feel too connected with our society or at least on the peripheries of common thought. In his work, every day objects and images were being broken down into equations and formulae, as if conducting a hypothetical experiment on life itself.
Most of the works were acrylic on canvas plus a couple of beautiful abstractions of sculpture which dominate the centre of the space. The common format for the painting was to have a contrasting beige bar across the base line, within this the artist has created series of kind of unique algebraic formulae which try to piece together elements from his life like the "amount of girls i have adored from a distance", "removing a wet overcoat in the winter of 1964" and "The smell of hot dogs in a cinema foyer" in which he tries to come to some conclusion, the image is kind of like an illustration for his point. I think there is a beautiful clarity in the painting which is laid out like a Google image search page. In the perfect yet very stylised execution of the painting work is really appealing and visually very engaging, he's taking an interface the audience is very used to seeing and serving it back in a medium they are definitely not used to. With his coffee cup it may not translate as well in a photo as it does in person but i found it really interesting how at first glance it appears to be a galaxy or planet of some kind but in fact its just that same view you've had every morning for years. The exhibition seems to be challenging the way you interpret and look at things, as a conscious decision from the artist to try and get you to work out life with him.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity of helping Miss Van hang her work in the space in preparation for her Solo show at the StolenSpace gallery in brick lane. It was a very last minute thing but opportunities like that are not to be missed. For those not aware of her work Miss Van from Paris is one of the leading international female street artists reaching global fame with her signature female characters or 'poupes' as she calls them. Miss Van was a larger than life character herself, quite a dominating and powerful figure, but still very kind and feminine she was a very interesting personality. This show was a retrospective of her work spanning around 15 years if i remember correctly so there was a great deal of pieces, mostly paintings, which actually filled both the large and smaller rooms that the gallery has - an impressive body by anyone's standard. The pieces were arranged into a chronological order, after which it was really interesting to see how different phases of her practice had produced some very different feels and moods whilst keeping the same centrally themed characters throughout. The work could be highly sexual or enticing, dark and primal at times. Some was very refined and delicate, more traditionally feminine. But in any state the work was undeniably beautiful. Perhaps some of my favourite works were painted directly onto animal hides as she experimented with the feral aesthetic.
Legendary pop artist Ed Ruscha exhibited his work earlier in the year at the Hayward gallery in the Southbank centre. The entire show had such an epic feel to it on every level, with the space, the work and the scale of everything it was very impressive even kind of overwhelming. In the first room were just big tyopgraphical pieces which featured one word on a block of colour which were very raw looking and really pretty beautiful images. The words relate to pop culture, references and values within American society. Their bold simplicity gives an impact and resonance which for me was a common feeling throughout the body of work. The power and impact of these earlier works continues on into Ruscha's Los Angeles landscape series which were my personal favourites from the retrospective. His flat colour simplified versions of everyday urban landscapes like gas stations and cinema screens give across a real insight into the mind of the great painter. This visual language which he speaks is to naturally break down and deconstruct a viewed object or landscape into a series of coloured geometric shapes and line, I find this really interesting and exciting because to an obviously less genius extent i do the same. My mind seems to work very graphically and naturally simplifies what i take in around me when i produce work.
I love the way Ruscha composes his paintings to have two thirds of the space filled by what sometimes be seen as obscure or irrelevant, like with his 20th century fox painting. The perfect white of the logo's 3d dominates the majority of the frame, apparently pressing the fox logo up against one corner. I enjoyed this exhibition a great deal, the work really speaks to me and Ifind it a very relatable subject matter. The great perspectives and open areas of colour translate to the vast expanses of space which exists in the States. For once America is not being portrayed in a solely negative light in the artwork which is quite a refreshing angle. You can see that in cases the work speaks proudly and fondly of the U.S, at times almost a homage to that golden age of west coast greatness.