At the beginning of July I met some friends down from Scotland for lunch and a quick visit to the Tate modern.
The gallery holds a wide range of art work – these are my brief notes picking out the work that I found most interesting
BABEL (2002)- by Cildo Meireles ( b. 1943) is a large installation comprising a mixed collection of radios ( including some rare vintage models) grouped and arranged together to form an impressive slacked circular shaped tower The piece was also partly lit adding a mysterious atmosphere to the towering pile of the radios. I liked the bold adventurous feel of the work. I also found myself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size energy and presence of the installation. I liked the way that Meireles has carefully assembled the piece each radio perfectly fitting together to become one form with the yellow glow of the lighting – I liked the luminous visual impact – I felt mesmerised by the light filtering out of the piece. I am guessing the piece is probably inspired by the Old Testament Biblical story of the Tower of Babel which explores the origins of different languages so maybe the radios are a metaphor for communication?
UNTITLED (FOR FRANK) (1985) by Antony Gormley ( b.1950)
I am an admirer of Antony Gormley’s. I really liked this sculpture of a androgynous figure constructed out of lead , fibre and plaster. The figure is completely black in colour with no facial features or clothing as Gormley seems only to be concerned with the form and structure of the human figure. I have recently been looking at the human figure and what I found interesting In this work is the way Gormley is looking at the stance of the figure – the work depicts the full length figure standing with feet apart , both arms extended and the head positioned slightly tilted backwards. It’s a powerful solid piece that really works to demonstrate the powerful nature of the body. I found the piece immensely fascinating and interesting , it has a real physical presence and a sense of space it seems to explore where a solid still figure fits into the space and environment around it and the impact of a figure placed in a neutral space – I think the work although heavy , unmoving and solid is imbued with an intense lively and light energy.
NATARAJA (1993) by Bridget Riley (b.1931) . This is a very large oil on canvas concerned with exploring the juxtaposition of diagnonals and almost geometric forms – a popular theme of Riley’s . She is also exploring the relationship and harmony of colour. I really like this work as it is so accomplished and is perfectly constructed she has clearly thought out the composition and planned the arrangement. The piece is ordered and organised and really demonstrates Riley’s many skills. It’s a piece that is easy on the eyes and makes me feel happy looking at it – I particularly like the way she has used the colour to emphaise the areas within the geometric shapes that make up the composition.I recently saw one of Riley’s drawings – a small sketch exploring shapes, form and colour at a recent study trip to the British museum drawing room so I was interested to see one of her finished paintings after leaning about some of her working processes.
CHESSBOARD, LARGE VERSION ( 1959) by Germaine Richier ( 1902-1959) there were many fine examples of sculpture to look at but I was drawn instantly to Richier’s art piece made from plaster and metal – the artwork comprises five figures of animals that on closer inspection reveal that each animal has a curious juxtaposition of human characteristics. To me the hybrid characters are humorous and joyful , they have a naive quality it looks like the animals have all been painted onto the plaster after the casting stage? The ‘chessboard ‘ is a piece of art that makes me smile and feel happy. I wondered whether Richier was saying inside a human being there is an element of latent animalistic behaviour? Do we share common traits with wildlife?
Or do animals have feelings like humans? It is an interesting piece that makes me think – I enjoy art that does make me think and makes me want to explore questions around it- it was made at the end of the artist’s life she died in her late 50’s I will definitely want to find out more about Richier. As I feel intrigued about her work.
COFFEE ( 1915) by Pierre Bonnard ( 1867-1947)
I have always loved Bonnard’s series of paintings exploring interior domestic scenes particularly the paintings with the checked red table cloths that often include a woman figure leisurely sipping coffee, I did a painting aged 15 of two children sitting at a table covered with a red checked tablecloth inspired by Bonnard an old colleague liked the picture so much that it has been hanging framed over her fire place for over 30 years! I really like the composition of ‘coffee ‘ and the way Bonnard has captured the languid relaxed stance of the female figure. It is a peaceful relaxed and harmonious piece of work that reminds me of sunny mornings at the breakfast table.
I also like the way Bonnard captures form, textures and patterns using simple brush strokes to suggest what he is seeing. hanging Next to ‘coffee’ there is a framed preparatory sketch in graphite of the painting. He has loosely sketched in the composition exploring and experimenting before making final decisions and we can see where he has made changes on the final painting. The drawing only has one figure. It is always fascinating and very insightful to see how an artist works as often we only see part of the process. I also like the way Bonnard uses an almost keyhole perspective as if the viewer is looking in at the scene adding an intimate feel to the work.