Sunday, 3 February 2013

Visting the Tate

Dear Diane,

I know that you are laid low in your sick bed so this is a letter to entertain you and give you something to read on your Ipad which,knowing you, I am sure is on your pillow with your tissues and medication.

In my last post I promised to tell you about my visit to the Tate Liverpool to see an exhibition about drawing. As always with the Tate there was not inconsiderable scratching of the head. Both at their definitions ( how is photography drawing?) and at the quality of what is on offer. I have learned over the years how to tackle a Tate exhibition though, taking into account my nature. Which is that in museums I have great starting enthusiasm but actually the attention span of a gnat and that I don't like paying money to be taken for a ride.

My method is to walk through relatively quickly. Window shopping. I note my instinctive reactions which usually fall into three catagories:

  • Ohhhh! Now thats clever, I like that.
  • Blah.
  • What the ...? How did that get here?

Then I walk the gallery again, not necessarily in any sensible order. The Blah stuff I tend to skip. I know.I might learn more if I didnt but .. Gnat Head. Got to do what I can do and no more. the Blah stuff is anyway usually stuff I can see the merit of but its not my style and it just doesn't trigger inspiration for my own work. So Monet, good work, lad, but will you excuse me while I go and spend time with this conceptual artist over here?

Now in this exhibition there were four artists I wrote down to show you that particularly struck me. Three of which I had not heard of before. So that list alone is worth the entrance fee.

The first one, I did know. William Kentridge. I was immediately attracted to him becuse he is South African so there is an interest before we start for me. He does animations based on drawings. Here is one of them

Clever. Amusing. There were four on a big screen. I watched one and a half. (Gnats head). He can clearly draw in the technical sense. His sketches are what I would have said good drawing was before I went. There is a video of him talking about his process here........

Oh that reminds me there was one of Henry Moore's London Blitz drawings too. Again good to look at. These works engendered in me a reaction of : sigh. If only I could do that....

Then there was Oskar Kokoshka and his London Drawings


I found these quite encouraging. Scribbly. I could do that. Of course if I did they would not end up in the Tate because of the mysterious and unknown art world mechanisms of designating who is an Artist and who has a nice hobby. But, last time I checked my life plan it did not include being shown in The Tate, so thats Ok. (Although, should any curators be reading this I can change my life plan at any time and it was with a great deal of postmodern irony that I failed to make my bed this morning. My contact details are in the sidebar.) But seriously, the Tate is in a great bit of Liverpool architecturally speaking and it is walkable on a lunch hour for the new job I will start in May. These pictures made me want to buy a sketchbook and plan to come out once a week to scribble draw.

Right opposite his work was stuff by a man whose name I forget, so annoying was he. He liked to lie in a field for hours at a time and then draw the interpretations of life he came up with as a result of his pastoral contemplations. He produced a white square and a blacksquare with a few pencil marks. Frankly, the man might have much of worth in his head but he was not expressing it well. My reaction to this was of the "Oh purleeese.." variety. However thinking about it later ( whilst of course lying in a puddle staring at the underside of a cow) I decided that its worth lay in the lesson it taught rather than the physical work. That lesson being: its OK to make crap art.

Actually, I am not being facetious. ( well, I am, but I have a serious point too). Fear stops me being a drawer. Fear of mediocrity. But you know this guy is not mediocre. Far, far worse. And he got into the Tate. And I presume in allowing that to happen he also got over his fear that ignorant bloggers who don't understand why in fact he is not worse than mediocre were going to take pot shots at him online. And that makes him one cool man in my opinion.

Then down the hall was Spilt Nude by Fiona Banner. This I was capitvated by. Have no idea why is a drawing but I did not care. Indeed I was pleased. Maybe I can draw after all if this is drawing.Unfortunately the online images do not make clear the text. I have no idea why this is called Split Nude though.

Finally there was Matthew Monahan with his body Electric Series. This was the one that made me want to leave. But in a good way. Leave to go home and be creative.

These very modern works look medieval. They are like rubbings, yet not. Like xrays, yet not. They are made by scraping oil coated boards with a fork which is plain original and fun. They are like the drawing kits you used to get as a kid where you scraped away layers of crayon to get white lines, yet they are not childish. And there is a whole series of them which means this man has concentration and stickablity, great and necessary qualities in an artist.

There was more stuff, but after a while we went for Pizza.

Get well soon,




1 comment:

Marjorie Horton said...

I really enjoyed this post. I think it ought to be printed up and handed out at the entrances of art galleries... I think the visitors would enjoy and benefit from art more. We'd probably have a few more good laughs along the way also.