the subtitle for this blog is: the week i didn’t see any art.
it’s going to be a relatively short post becuase, believe it or not, i visited a gallery per day this week and managed to only actually see 3 shows, thanks to most of them being shut or fucked up in some way. thank goodness i have a sense of humour!
ICA (institute of contemporary art)
i went to the ica to have a gander and check out the reputable contemporary art gallery (not to mention clash pilgrimage stop). when i got there, there was no exhibition on, it’s opening tomorrow. loaded with attitude. when i asked about buying a ticket to the david eggers talk on thursday (which i had heard about and was really looking forward to), i got ‘it’s all sold out’ and about as much human interaction as a piece of fucking box board.
so, instead of storming off and bitching about the rude fucking british, i hung out in the very excellent bookstore. i can’t really afford to buy anything at the moment (finances and space, etc), but i watched someone buy pretty much everything in the store, and turned a very lovely shade of pantone 365. i looked at wonderful books on theory, books with pretty coloured covers, magazines from around the world and even picked up a very cool looking freebie on Cool London Brands. I left feeling slightly renewed, went to use the toilets, closed. fucking gallery.
don’t worry, i’ll go back next week to see if i can reclaim a shitty first impression, but for today, the ica sucks. it does absolutely nothing to prevent absolute alientation from contemporary art, even by contemporary artists, for fucks’ sake!
stolen space, chloe early
after lounging in my fav. cafe, i popped in to see the show and got to see precisely 1.5 paintings before the gallery staff kindly told me that it actually wasn’t open and that the private viewing was tomorrow.
they really shouldn’t have had the signs (note the plural) out on the street, advertising the gallery as open. however, the paintings that i did see looked really great actually and i’m hoping i can skip back in there another day soon, before the show closes.
tate modern, material gestures (ubs openings)
in the next round of tate modern adventures, young will and i met for coffee again and gasbagged for ages, before heading around the material gestures on the third floor.
material gestures started with a huge fibreglass piece by my favourite british artist (at the moment) anish kapoor. i go weak at the knees with everything he does, and this one was no exception.
highlights of the floor included the wrong gallery (you may remember that i heard massimiliano gioni from wrong at the melbourne art fair forums a while ago), and the rothko room. mayhem and i were supposed to rendevouz there a while back and never managed it. it was fucking amazing and i’m so glad he decided that it was all wrong for a hotel and so, so right for a gallery. in fact i could sit in that room for hours on end, just being all, hummed out is the only way i can explain it.
i don’t want to reduce rothko to associations with my childhood, but there was something about the room that reminded me of my grandparents’ loungeroom – all that deep red and charcoalness had something to do with it.
the influence of american action painters and inaction painters (like barnett newman) was really well shown, while given enough room to treat the works individually as well. I’m not sure if the whole effect of world war II was quite impressed as much as it needed to be, but overall, it was hot.t.
victoria & albert museum, surreal things
i had been looking forward to going to the v&a for a while, especially the surrealist ball. it sounded like such a great idea – totally free, encouragement to dress up, late night time in a museum, and, as it turns out, a chance to tweet (meet a twitter friend) Helen. turns out she had free tix, so i actually got to see the Surreal Things exhibition, rather than wander around the museum (which i would happily have done, but it was so much better seeing the show.)
i’m not really a huge fan of surrealism. In fact, as response to the madness of world war I, i much prefer dadaism. however, the surreal things was more about the design aspect of surrealism, which was far more interesting and engaging – set design, costume, product design (including works by Carlo Mollino and groovy couches by Isamu Noguchi). It also featured the Bestegui Apartment, designed by Le Corbusier and although Dali is my least favourite, the Mae West lips and associated homewares by Dali and Edwards were fantastic.
The Magritte paintings on display were pretty good (not the best, but still pretty ace) and i was quite surprised by how many surrealist works by Albert Giacometti were included.
If you’re into design of any kind, I thoroughly recommend going to see the show ‘cos while Dali is one of the most overrated painters in history, other artists in the Surrealists were responsible for some truly brave and inspiring works.
coningsby gallery, natalie abadzis, the leafsweeper
i stumbled upon this gallery, looking for another one, and it was nice to pop into a show that was quite delicate and innocent and clean. natalie is a designer and illustrator and her paintings were quite cute – little moments that captured little perspectives of life. her small artists’ book was for sale, so i bought one. it was nice to engage with something a little more whimsical.
situation leeds, various locations, leeds.
i went to leeds for the day to check out the last day of situation leeds, a festival of situationist works in the centre of the northern town. it sounded fantastic, and with situation work totally up my alley, i jumped on a bus for 4 hours each way to check it out.
the weather was totally shithouse, but that didn’t bother me too much. that was until my experience of the festival was a whitewash. the promotion and website for the festival was absolutely fantastic, but the actual event was really badly organised and totally lost me. although it was the end of the festival, according to the website and other guides, i could at least check out the work on the free city bus, the bus stops and at the university. well, when i got to leeds, i found out the hard way the the free city bus doesn’t run on sundays, which meant that i drastically reduced what i could see. never mind, i went to the festival hub to check out what else i could see.
the festival hub was at the met gallery in the metropolitan university and for a ‘festival hub’ it was appallingly signposted. in fact, it wasn’t and i wandered around a desolate university trying to find where the fuck i was. finally i found the gallery and was hoping to find out all kinds of helpful information, some keen suggestions as to some cool stuff to check out. all i got was a cursory brush off, a printed guide and some misinformation about the city bus service from a girl who was far more interested in hanging out on the net than in actually engaging with me, or helping me enjoy the art or the festival. what a waste of fucking resources! did these people even want people to see any art or have an enjoyable time?
when i managed to get some sense of where some works might be laying, i had a quick look around the gallery there and it was mostly documentationa about the festival and the cool do.go.see installation.
i went off to the leeds university to find the 10 green bottles which were ‘on a wall outside the robert stevenson building’ according to the descriptions and when i finally found the building, i walked around the whole thing (in the freezing cold rain) and didn’t find the fucking works. i swear, it was laughable and laugh i did! and then, i decided to not put myself in any more pain and walked back into town to find a nice, warm, dry place to sit. i still can’t quite believe what a shambles it was, but i consoled myself, buying a kick-arse pair of x-hi converse boots, drafting a blog about cultural tourism and not judging a city on one crap day/event.
hayward gallery, antony gormley, blinding light.
and, to top off a fine week of not seeing any art, i braved the winter-like weather and bank holiday crowds to take advantage of cheap mondays at the hayward, and to see the gormley. i really like antony gormley’s works – having seen the asian field and the desert figures in australia. and, so it seems, did everyone else in london. the show was ‘sold out’ which was not only annoying, but damn hilarious! and instead of going to the national gallery instead (like i usually do on mondays), i decided to laugh, cut my losses, come home, cook a huge lasagne from scratch and blog about it.
next week, i’m actually going to buy a time out and make sure i choose wisely.