Though I sometimes feel uneasy about leaving my studio, getting out and seeing what’s new and current in the art world is always refreshing and inspiring for my practice. It fuels me with excitement and courage in returning to my paintings and thoughts about participating in the art world.
One of the first and most powerful works I had the pleasure of viewing in the past week was Christian Marclay’s film, The Clock. Marclay created this iconic work in 2010, but it’s currently being shown in the Tate Modern. It combines clips from thousands of movies, which form a 24-hour long film where the local time is synced with the time in the work. So, at 2 in the afternoon when I was watching the film, a scene from 2 pm in a movie was shown. The display room was filled with couches with around 100 people comfortably enjoying the work together. Marclay was incredibly thoughtful as he put the film together and selected individual clips. Some of the films I recognized and others were unfamiliar. During the time I spent in the space, a couple scenes from Spiderman were shown. Peter Parker arrives late to work at Joe’s pizza and has 7 minutes to bike 42 blocks to deliver an order or else he’ll lose his job. It shows the initial encounter with his boss and then bounces between several other films, returning to Peter Parker looking at a street clock and rushing away. Several other clips are shown and then the film returns to Peter Parker as he delivers the pizza...late. The work was entrancing...I thought I’d stay for 5-10 minutes and ended up spending nearly an hour enjoying Marclay’s elaborate puzzle, which seems like a metaphorical representation of life
Thanks to a suggestion given by my friend, Jhonatan Pulido, I spent the start of one afternoon of gallery hopping at the Gagosian for Joe Bradley’s exhibition, Day World. I hadn’t seen Bradley’s work previously, but I was immediately entranced by his use of color and form in creating playful, somewhat unresolved compositions. It is important to get close to the paintings to fully experience them. Footprints appear in odd places, gritty dirt creates texture in the thickly applied paint, pieces of hair can also be found stuck in dried glops of the medium...is it his hair? Is it the hair of a friend, lover, or someone who visited his studio as he was working? I love the personal history it suggests of Bradley’s creative process. He paints with his canvases on the floor of his studio, stretching the canvas over frames once he’s satisfied with the build-up of texture and composition.
Another gallery that I usually take the time to visit while in London is the White Cube in Mason’s Yard. This time they were showing Léon Wuidar’s work. Wuidar is quoted in the exhibition’s press release: ‘I like the idea that my paintings are polysemous, that interpretations are multiple, that a painting continues to provide new meanings to different viewers and therefore can never be empty of meaning.’
Wuidar’s words are relevant to my own understanding of painting and it’s greater purpose. Everyone will have their own opinion; the subjectivity of art is important. In determining worth, it’s a frustrating element. I believe when an artist is creating objects they believe in, there is an inherent success in the outcome...regardless of the subjective opinions of the audience.
Though there was a line into the exhibition, going to Victoria Miro to see Yayoi Kusama’s work was well worth it. Her multidisciplinary pieces speak for themselves. She’s well established as one of the most deeply influential of today’s art scene, so getting to view her work in person was an absolute treat.
Kusama has a brilliant and beautiful way of discussing her art. In talking about her paintings, Kusama states ‘They are an explosion of ideas and represent my preoccupation with infinity and the search for peace and love which has always been at the heart of my work.’ What a wonderful testament to a life of art-making. Kusama is also quoted, ‘All I want is for human beings of every era to breathe the spirit and energy of their times and to face the future undaunted.’ Kusama has hope for the world I think every individual could benefit from. Analyzation of today’s western society and what it collectively supports offers some bleak foreshadowings of the future, but Kusama’s work gives a reminder that all hope is not lost. Beauty is still a very present part of the human experience, though it may come in different forms.
On one of the nights in London, painters Woody Mellor and Anthony Banks, invited us to an exhibition opening at a gallery called The Approach. Woody and Anthony, along with their friend Alex Gibbs, spent time at the Burren College of Art through the Royal College of Art exchange and then were invited back for a residency and exhibition in our gallery. They kindly invited us to join them for the evening, giving us a glimpse into their lives as artists in London. The gallery was above a pub, so after viewing the work, we all went down for a few drinks and conversation. The place became crowded with artists as the night went on, such a nice contrast from the Burren’s solitude. Two artists showed their work in the gallery spaces and one of the artists was a classmate who graduated the year after the boys. His name is Hun Kyu Kim, a painter who makes work following the tradition of Korean silk painting but applying his own graphic and complex visual language. It was really cool getting to see such a recent graduate showing his work.
The other artist, Peter Davies, showed a series of simple collages. Davies wrote a really wonderful introduction to the collages, describing them as ‘impulsive, honest, and direct.’ Davies discusses how he feels the collages allow him an opportunity to connect with his work without feeling the pressure of contextualizing it within the realm of art history--something that I’ve experienced with my own paintings recently. Especially within the educational institution, there is pressure to make work with a conscious theoretical backing. Sometimes artists just need freedom of personal expression to make good art.
Unfortunately, my time in Berlin for gallery visits was limited, but I got to spend time with my FAVORITE brother. Family time always trumps art, especially when you live across the ocean. It was his 25th birthday on Saturday and we spent the day at a market eating lots of good food, wine, and enjoying wonderful conversation. After a day of indulgence I managed to sneak away for a couple galleries.
In the Blain Southern, I saw an exhibition of Ali Banisadr’s abstract paintings: The World Upside Down. Banisadr is an Iranian artist from Tehran. His paintings are arresting images, full of movement--a sensed history of their creation. In a press release from the gallery Banisadr claims, ‘we’re all actors of one sort or another. We’re all implicated, Caught up in our own madness.’ The press release describes his work as ‘chaos’ and landscapes of the ‘world upside down.’ These works allow Banisadr moments for reflecting on social class and ‘the absurdity of life.’ Life is quite absurd and choosing to be an artist only adds to its absurdity. I think Banisadr’s work is powerful aesthetically, but his conceptual motivations really drive the paintings home.
I could write a book on the powerful work I got to view in my short week in London and Berlin. There are many exhibitions I got to see that I didn’t discuss, but I’ve provided a slideshow of additional images below.
What I experienced is just a small portion of the vast amount of work that can be viewed now. Both cities provide such vibrant ecosystems of art support. Though I don’t take advantage of it often, it is incredibly nice being a short plane flight away from two very strong cities for art.