Thursday, May 23, 2013

Art Tour

This morning I met up with Caroline; we had planned to go to see the Rachel Whiteread show Detached at the Gagosian Gallery.
We met at St Pancras station, under Paul Day's Kiss statue. Caroline told me how the art establishment had turned their snooty noses up at it, because it is figurative; I thought it beautiful and I loved the small bronze tableaux underneath it, parts of which have been polished by being touched. I noticed the tiny dog first, which had been patted to a yellow gleam; the patina of the bronze had emerged from its dull finish. Caroline took me round to the other side to see the little hand of a child in a miniature scene, which at that very moment was being held by a little child. That too was shiny and yellow, polished by human contact.
The Gagosian Gallery is a stone's throw from Kings Cross station; we pushed the huge door open and came upon a beautiful poem about songs and sheds which I was allowed to photograph but not to put here on the blog. It reminded me of what I call the universal address, the reverse version of which I use to teach students the importance of homing in on a tiny seed to grow a thesis from:


My room
My house
My street
My town
My county
My country
My island/continent
My hemisphere
The world
The solar system
The universe.

The gallery is a gracious space, lit from above with a silencing diffuse light. Three concrete sheds made of bluey-grey concrete stood in a line, inside-out and solid. There was something of the elephant about them. You could walk around them and they begged to be touched.... but be warned!

Nothing makes a security guard leap across a room faster than an attempt to touch a concrete shed!
In the next room, thick castings of doors and windows in pastel-coloured glass leaned casually against the wall. I think Rachel Whiteread's work is funny: things you might imagine in a fleeting moment, things that are so normal they appear to be insignificant, are made solid through a massive amount of effort, and become useless in their tribute form. As Caroline said, she 'materialises the idea'. We talked to a friendly security assistant called Andy and asked him what he thought of the artworks. I don't think he had a great connection with them but he told us about an exhibition called After the War at The Pace Gallery that he said was the best exhibition he had ever seen.
Next we went over to Cork Street, which sadly is due for demolition in perhaps the clearest example of philistinism one could possibly find. 'Yes! Let's destroy a community of art galleries and build flats instead' chirp the property developers (who have paintings on their corporate walls that they do not even see). And the government, from its position of weak economic mess riddled with networks of secret deals with property developers, rolls over and lets them scratch its tummy. Bless!
So what did we find? A brash and colourful exhibition by Richard Woods called D.I.Y. at the Alan Cristea Gallery; some truly lovely Rousseau  and Luigi Loir paintings at The Medici Gallery; and best of all, Elizabeth Frink at Beaux Arts, sketches, paintings and sculpture.

We finished at the Mayor Gallery, where Caroline had a meeting about an exhibition of women artists. 
Let's hope that Caroline herself will be invited to show her work in Cork Street before it vanishes- 
her narrative paintings would be a welcome addition to the variety and colour of the gallery offerings 
at this compact and fascinating location!

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