Museums are easy to go to in London, but it requires dedication and planning to get to the galleries with interesting exhibitions. So this weekend, I did a special walk around Mayfair and picked out a few galleries I’ve always wanted to visit during the week but have never had the time to. The paradox is that they are five minutes away from work, but visiting them on a lazy Saturday makes it all the more special.
Julian Opie’s work has a special kind of peace and beauty to it, and an immaculate ‘every strand of hair in place’ kind of finish. The work I saw at the Lisson Gallery last year made me have new respect for him as an artist, and the Alan Cristea exhibition is a follow up to one of the videos Winter, 2012 he had at the Lisson exhibition.
The work on display at the Alan Cristea Gallery is 75 prints laminated in glass, representing 75 sequential steps on a circular walk that Opie took through the French countryside on a harsh winter’s day. Accompanying the prints is a haunting score that is also in the film and has been written by Paul Englishby with vocals by Opie’s wife, Aniela Opie.
Bruce Nauman is well known for taking the everyday and the banal and turning it into poignant art. We had the brilliant Days at the ICA last year and it was quite an experience to hear the fourteen different speakers reciting the days of the week on loop, amidst the sound, light and the reality of things going by.
mindfuck is interesting because not only is it about Nauman’s neon works, but it also gives the viewer a chance to experience Nauman playing around with our perception of space and the body. The work Untitled (Helman Gallery Parallelogram), really tapped into my worst nightmare of getting stuck between walls, if only for a nano second.
I haven’t seen much of Mat Collishaw’s work before but these paintings were stunning. The sense of emptiness, of something that was once useful and has now been discarded, is very evident especially given the scale of these oil on canvas works. According to the press release – Collishaw addresses the history of painting within this body of work, subversively suggesting a debasement of the grand legacy associated with this medium. He states, ‘You can’t just paint – you have to address the whole history of painting and then make some sort of paradigm shift.’ That’s where references from Modernism to Pop and Minimalism abound in these works, as well as the atmosphere and rich tradition of Romanticism, where sublime landscapes intimate towards existential questions concerning the nature of being and man’s place in the world.’
You get big points if you can read this in these paintings; I would not wish to put it into literal words, but the paintings do say this and more.
The juxtaposition of beautiful Auguste Rodin next to the Francis Bacon works they have purportedly inspired, is brilliant. And a true example of how great exhibitions don’t need many rooms and many works.
Six carefully selected works and this exhibition, was all it took to make my day.
All exhibitions worth visiting, each with their unique charm and the ability to make a lazy day well spent.