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More exhibitions…

December 10, 2012

At the end of November I went to see more exhibitions in London. At Tate Modern I saw ‘A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance’, which features the painting ‘A Bigger Splash’ by David Hockney. This painting depicts a poolside scene, the moment after a person has dived into the pool, the water splashes up but there’s no swimmer visible and no-one around the poolside. It’s such a clean empty space, only the splashing water and the unoccupied fold-up chair hint at the previous presence of a person. It’s curiously absent of humanity/beings, it’s a void. But this is not the only art in the exhibition. It encompasses a variety of pieces relating to painting and performance art.

A video I found interesting was Eleanor Antin’s ‘Representational Painting, in which she filmed herself in the process of applying her own make-up, questioning identity by raising questions about what’s expected of gender roles in society. Are women expected to always apply make-up, itself a form of ‘paint’, before going out? There are ideas raised about vulnerability and changing definitions of beauty. It seemed poignant in relation to performance and painting and their context within art and life. I also enjoyed seeing a series of photographs by Cindy Sherman. Her ‘Bus Riders’ series made in 1976 is a set of 12 5×7” prints in black and white, depicting all kinds of different characters seen on buses, made using Sherman’s usual method of dressing up, disguising and photographing herself.

I also went to the Purdy Hicks gallery and saw Susan Derges ‘Alder Brook’ exhibition. This was filled with absolutely beautiful photographs, ridiculously beautiful. They all appeared to be based in an outdoor location, a brook, but are slightly ambiguous in how they present the surroundings. Pieces such as ‘Love Brook’ (2012) appeared to show ripples in a reflection of the bridge, leaves and shadows. They looked like they all depicted the surface of the brook water, the reflections showing the sky above. ‘Star Field Bridge’ and ‘Crescent Moon Bridge’ were particularly picturesque, showing clear drips, shadows and reflections of the starry sky at night. ‘Full Moon Ivy’ also had a particularly captivating sense of ambiguity created by the ripples on the surface and the shadow of ivy and the full moon reflected. Apparently they’re actually made using a technique which includes immersing light-sensitive photographic paper into the water!

Another exhibition I saw was ‘Judy Chicago: Deflowered’ at Riflemaker Gallery. It was quite a small show but it was interesting to see her work in person. It featured some of her preliminary work for her epic work ‘The Dinner Party’, including a drawn design for the table runner for Mary Wollstonecraft’s place setting with original notes and editing clearly visible, it seemed to be inspired by the writing of whose place setting it was. I just wish it had been a bigger exhibition with even more of her work from The Dinner Party.

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