02/02/15 22:24 Filed in: Contextual Research
…or how to pass an hour on the cheap before heading off to the train station.
Actually, I seriously thought about heading into the Sigmar Polke exhibition, but to be honest I don’t know who he is (was?), so I was attracted to the free exhibitions which were featuring some of the artists we’d been discussing recently: Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik and Richard Serra. There was also some Surrealism to see, so a quick refuel on sandwiches and coffee after the Conflict collection and it was around a few of them.
Bourgeois was first. I saw her spider (Maman) in Paris years ago, before I’d really paid much attention to the name, but here at the Tate Modern, the current exhibition is some sketches, some gouache on wet paper, an embroidered book and others. My first thoughts, which I’m absolutely positive will be controversial, is that she couldn’t draw for toffee. I know, I know. Not everyone will draw in the same way, and that there are different styles of drawing, but I found her sketches incredibly child like and primitive. Not innocent, not at all, but just… in what I consider to be the style of a 7-year old. It really, really isn’t my thing. But that’s ok. I wasn’t a huge fan of her gouache work either, although it was what I would declare as being slightly more interesting than the sketches…
Louise Bourgeois @ Tate
The book works I did actually have some interest in. Whether that was because it was a book or because there were words juxtaposed with the images I’m not sure, maybe it was both… I have started wondering how I can work something into a book form. I’ll find a way but it won’t be embroidered – it’s not my “thing” even if it is interesting to see other forms. All grist for the mill, as they say.
Louise Bourgeois @ Tate
Ode A La Bievre
I’m not sure what I really expected with Nam June Paik, I guess I was associating him with Fluxus and the neo-avant grade of the 60s like we covered in the video lecture. But no, it was (amongst other things) a robot made of transistor radios… The sci-fi geek was momentarily enthralled, but I suppose as is the case with modern gadgetry (!), the moment passed. Whilst it would’t have been the same, I think it might have carried more retro kitsch and appealed more without the little LCD screens (although…)
Nam June Paik @ Tate
Richard Serra’s Trip Hammer (1998) was seen at the entrance to another group exhibit – maybe it’s just me, but the balancing act is quite impressive (not as impressive as the self supporting rocks later), but is it “art”? Ha, I’m not going there…! Something else I really liked the idea of was Giuseppe Panone’s Tree of 12 metres (1980-2) – Alberi di 12 metri. Taking a square-cut sawn timber as recovering the shape of the younger tree… there’s something, I don’t know, warming about it? Maybe there is hope…
Giuseppe Panone @ Tate
Tree of 12 Metres
Of the rest – Twombly, Picasso, Baer, etc. – I didn’t really stop and consider for too long, although I did take some reference shots of the gallery context (with my iPhone – schoolboy error in the morning meant that the memory card of my little X100 was still in the computer). I think the gallery context could be a project to do more fully at some point, acknowledging that Thomas Struth (and probably others) has already done it. It’s something I do find quite interesting though – how people interact with the work…
Cy Twombly @ Tate
Pablo Picasso @ Tate
Jo Baer @ Tate
In reality, an hour wasn’t enough time to go around the number of exhibitions I did and reflect in any depth, but it was still worthwhile seeing some of the work we had been discussing, even if only fleetingly. I’m not sure when I’ll be down in London next, and we don’t really have much in the way of big galleries locally – that’s the trouble with countryside living; all the sheep you want to see, but not so much in the way of mainstream art…