Monday, 19 September 2011

Some Excellent Exhibitions

I am a bit behind with my blogging due to the many family members who have been up to North Yorkshire to visit me recently.  We had a ball, but now I am recalling some of the really good shows I managed to fit in before they all descended.

Towards the end of August  we went to Gateshead, to The Baltic, to see the fascinating Robert Breer show, the unsettling Maurizio Anzeri stitched photographs and the  photographic installation. by Maria Robertson.  All 3 shows were really good, gold star again to the Baltic.

The Robert Breer show ends 25th September so anyone reading this that wants to go needs to get their skates on.  Breer is acclaimed as a major influence on the development of film animation and I was absolutely mesmerised by the films shown.  The films included his own artwork and photographs.  His paintings often became major parts of his films. 

I have to admit that I had not really been aware of Robert Breer until I saw this exhibition; but I am so glad that I have had the chance to experience his work.  The exhibition was arranged chronoligically from level 3 to level 4, but true to form, I saw it back to front as we treated ourselves to lunch on the top floor before we started!  Breer's paintings, which were influenced by the grids of Mondrian were a little derivative but the colour Breer employed was more subltle than Mondrian's. One of the paintings also reminded me of the cut out by Matisse, The Snail.  Breer was fascinated by the idea that a painting could be simplified and reduced in its expression to potent sign language.  The paintings, flat areas of colour divided in various ways across the picture plane are full of energy. 

However, it is Breer's Floats and Films that were so exciting.  Breer used found objects and sculptures that parodied real objects while others are purely abstract.  What makes them so extraordinary is that they are mechanised so that they move at an almost imperceptible speed.  The viewer is left wondering if they actually saw the movement or not.  Their environment thus continually updates itself as the objects move about and change direction.

The films were the best thing as far as I was concerned; they incorporate Breer's own artwork, his photographs of family  and familiar logos and objects.  Their jerky nature left me feeling very disorientated in a good way; they had an obvious link to his flick books which were also exhibited and which I yearned to have a go at!   A quote from the accompanying leaflet:
"Breer's art always uses one force to define another in an intricate play with opposites: the recognisable is employed to highlight and condense the abstract, while stillness is employed only to accentuate change."

Sums it up completely.  The exhibition is really worth a visit.

Maurizio Anzeri's stitched photographs are fantastically fabulous.  They are sinister, but leave you wanting more, a bit like when you can't help watching a horror film or some such.  The accompanying sculptures using synthetic hair were also amazing yet faintly unsettling; like fettish objects.

I enjoyed the photographic installation by Maria Robertson simply because they had loads of energy, brilliant colour and were like gutsy paintings but they were done using photographic techniques and materials.  The way the huge roll of printed paper was draped over the high partition wall raised questions about our perception of photography and the way it is displayed.  The large pieces in frames were placed asymmetrically within the space again challenging the viewer to think about these issues and to see the work in a fresh way.

I really would recommend all three of these exhibitions and am glad that I saw them.

We finally made it to Wakefield to the Hepworth Museum. 

A brilliant space, the light is excetional and  the work is displayed very well.  Being a painter, I particularly enjoyed the gallery displaying paintings by associates of Hepworth.  We found the car parking inadequate and the gallery was not signposted very well so we got a bit lost and when we finally arrived desperate for coffee, the cafe was trying too hard to be a restaurant when it should simply supply good food fast.  Was it necessary to take an order for an egg sandwich and have it made up fresh while we waited for at least 30 minutes?  Why not have fresh sandwiches ready?  What is good enough for the Royal Academy . . . . . But enough; the art is FAB !

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