Task 1: Critical Response
The first gallery we went to was The Whitechapel Gallery, until the 6th April 2015 they are hosting an exhibition called Adventures of the Black Square. This exhibition focusses on Abstract Art and Society from 1915-2015.
The “Adventures of the Black Square” is inspired by Kazimir Malevich’s painting of a black square. This painting was first shown in Russia and inspired a new era of new art and new society. Each of the works presented in the ensemble of the exhibition takes on the legacy of this piece.
In total there are four different sections who all have a unique theme. The first section studies Utopia, the second Architectonics, the third Communication and the last The Everyday.
The first piece of branding we saw was the poster on the outside of the building. After seeing the exhibition I do not know if it was effective in describing what we saw inside. It showed one image from the show, Seven Rotations by Dóra Maurer. feel if the actual piece that inspired the show would be idea for this poster and along with this to tone down the typography and avoid a block colour square to put the information on. Visually the poster drew me in but I do not feel it was a ideal representation of what was to come.
Upon entering the first exhibition room, it was visually overpowering. There was a lot of different work covering the walls and floors and it was all done in a variety of media. Even from the initial glance it was clear the colour black was dominant.
The work was presented alternatively throughout the exhibition. This was mainly due to the variety of media shown. The first piece shown was appropriately Kazmir Malevich’s Black Quadrilateral, this for the viewer was the visual introduction for what would be to come, it immediately took on a bold visual language. The piece looked at colour as equal importance to white and early abstract geometric shapes and was completed in the era of World War One and the October Revolution: two very poignant events in Russia.
From here the exhibition led on look at all under the theme of Utopia. Here pieces such as Sophie Taeber’s Untitled pearl dye work in which we discover her belief in the innate expressive power of colour however still using a formal element and Werner Mantz’s Architectural photographs are eye-catching pieces of this section. All the works in this first section and leading onto the second and curated in very close proximity. Each piece led onto the next but in some cases this closeness disabled us from concentrating solely on one piece. Visually our gaze is rushing from piece to piece. However this was not the case of all walls, some had their own pieces on them or the way in which two works were laid out were similar, these were a lot less visually confusing. I appreciated this way of curating a lot more.
I feel the promotional material helped us to understand further how the exhibition worked. As we paid we were provided with a leaflet showing several works and describing pieces in some detail. I had to do further research to find out more about each section of the website and I feel that in order to find more out one would have to buy the book for the show. This is something that is not in my opinion that could work if somebody really appreciated the show but as a student having paid entry and then having to pay to find out more easily further information is not so agreeable. Along with this the exhibition prohibited photography. Having a notebook would be essential in order to remember details from this show.
In all the rooms in the Whitechapel there is no natural light, therefore how the rooms are lit is purely artificial. This is done by spotlight shining directly on the artworks.
Even with the absence of natural light, the spotlights were well placed and brightly in order that the viewer would not have difficulty exploring the pieces but did not feel as if they were too dim. The lighting pattern of course depended on the pieces themselves. For example the video art piece in The Everyday, Bejing 2008 by Sarah Morris, had to be in a separate dark room and the lack of a curtain made it so the pieces around had to be lit carefully as not to distract the viewers attention. Again the piece Memorial for Intersections, an installation by Amalia Pica had to be lit in order to encourage shadows surrounding the piece made from the translucent glass and metal poles.
Overall I appreciated a lot what I saw in the Adventures of the Black Square. It was an exciting gallery displaying a range of intriguing works. Some of them really inspired me for my creative enterprise work and how they were displayed too. I feel I have taken away a lot from the curation of the show and how I myself can take this on board for my future exhibition.
Werner Mantz – Whitechapel Gallery
I noticed Mantz’s pieces straight away in the Whitechapel Gallery due to their use of line and strong form. The three photographs he presented to us were Saints Monulphus and Gondulphuskerk Church (1932), Untitled (Staircase, Ursuliner Lyzeum, Cologne 1928) and Untitled (Photograph for a manufacturer of stones, Cologne 1928). I found these photos really intriguing and seeing them made me want to discover more. From the label I discovered that architectural photos of this time showed the optimism of progress, they were mainly used as commercial portraiture and advertising and were functional rather than artistic. Photos would be commissioned by the architect for documentation, in the case of Mantz, Wilhem Riphahn commissioned these images. The detailed images are bold and cropped at distinct angles, they showed modern architecture which used a lot of geometric from, therefore showing us its position in the overall theme of the exhibition.
These pieces caught my eye for the strong black and white image and the use of form and line. The architecture within them too was aesthetically pleasing and drew me in to discover more as a viewer.
Makiko Kudo – Wilkinson Gallery
I found Kudo’s brushwork immediately appealing as an artist and the sheer size of her pieces were powerful in the space. She did not show so many pieces that the viewer was overpowered but she created her works strength within the space. I was attracted to her work mainly due to its delicacy and illustration element. Her fine detail is admirable and I cannot imagine how long each piece would take to create and neither how many hours. As a Japanese artist she takes on board personal themes from her background and interprets them carefully mixing Japanese culture and anime with French painting.
Peter Schmersal – Flowers Gallery
I was immediately drawn to Schmersal’s work and in particular his work with flowers. The brushstrokes and layers he uses to create his work are exciting and I find how he has no real order to the way he paints intriguing. I feel as if he works with an object and then creates his own background. This style seems similar throughout all of his works. His objects are very realist and he uses from what I can see rich oil paints. According to the Press Release of his show he works with “expressive reworking of the traditional genres of sill life, landscape, portrait and self portrait, in which he engages in a compelling contemporary dialogue with the master works of western narrative painting.”
3. Galleries that are new to me
The Approach is a contemporary gallery based in Bethnal Green in London. It is situated on top of a pub and has only one room. The windows of this gallery let in a lot of natural light and it is an old building. The layout is ideal for a single artist to exhibit however may be difficult for a group show.
Its popularity could be somewhat due to the pub on the lower floor.
The layout of the Wilkinson Gallery is unique.The first room on the bottom floor was an open space with four walls and a high ceiling. Upstairs is another identical shaped space just slightly rectangular and hosting a range of ceiling windows. This made the space feel bigger and let in a lot of natural light. This gallery is situated on Vyner Street, a street once known for its artist exhibitions.
Flowers Gallery is situated in Kingsland Road. It has a glass entrance making it appealing and as you can see the work from this window it makes it more intriguing to explore, even as a passerby. I thought the layout was clever having again a bottom floor and first floor both hosting different exhibitions. The lighting was both artificial and natural however I feel the glass front would have been effective at nighttime as it would show off well the work from the street.