Sunday, 23 May 2010

Ed Ruscha - Fifty years of painting

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.

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