The Baroque Cello Project
At the urging of my better half we ventured up to Arcade Cardiff and the Baroque Cello Project. I had no idea what to expect, but in very simple terms it’s a collaborative piece based around the building of (yes, you guessed it…) a Baroque cello, the constituent elements being the cello itself, the bits of wood left over, a piece composed for the cello, and a soundscape produced from the sounds generated by the luthier when building the instrument. The conceptual underpinning could therefore be summed up in a single sentence from the hand-out: what happens when the disregarded is given the same close attention as the instrument?
Overall impression: pleasantly surprised. I was particularly interested in the decision by the artist, Leona Jones, not to manipulate the found sounds. More performances scheduled in the next couple of weeks: details on their website.
Further up then to the National Museum of Wales and the private view for the 6th Artes Mundi International Art Exhibition and Prize.
Chocolate sculpture: smells fabulous…
Mmmmm… chocolate. Next up, a Health & Safety catastrophe waiting to happen:
Back to the electric goat. Whatever else you make of it, it produces a lovely sound:
Needless to say the place was heaving, and so it was very difficult to concentrate on the works themselves. Still, as a show it’s clearly got a really interesting and challenging mix of approaches, materials, and intention on display. We’ll be going back for a more considered appreciation.
And you’d have to say it’s great to see such a major event happening in Cardiff. Nice…
Last weekend I went up to London to see my long-time friend Julian, who had very kindly offered to take me to see the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate Modern (as he’s now a member).
I very much enjoyed the show. Lichtenstein’s work has been worn very thin through over-exposure, but the dead hand of cliché was put firmly in its place by confrontation with the real thing. The first room was dedicated to a number of his “brushstroke” paintings and their impact was immediate and profound: simply being exposed directly to these iconic images at full-scale transforms the experience into something emotionally engaging and intellectually stimulating.
Close-up the paintings come alive: one can’t help but be affected by the colour, the craftsmanship of the outlines, the interplay of the textures, and the painterly eye realized in the coherence and artistry of the overall image.
With Spray (1962) for example, I spent a long time looking at that thumb: the elegance of those curves, the simplicity of the nail-varnish effect, the quality of that red. And at this scale one can’t see it, but at this relatively early stage in his career those Benday dots are hand-painted.
These Seascapesfrom 1964 and 1965 are gorgeous.
Hopeless 1963. 33 years between this one and:
Landscape with Philosopher 1996.
I thought it significant that the last room of the exhibition had been made-over into a Lichtenstein-only shop (in addition to the substantial one on the ground floor), just in case we forgot why we were really there…
Afterward we had a whistle-stop tour of some of the other standing exhibits. I spent a quarter of an hour sitting in a room of full-on Rothko’s but, I’m afraid, no good: I just don’t get Rothko at all. Here are a few random snaps:
Choucair sculpture room. Derivative painting, but everything else very impressive.
Marshall McLuhan has presumably been into this Cy Twombly room: “Art is anything you can get away with”. He would have had plenty to say about this too, no doubt:
Finally up to the member’s lounge for a cup of tea. Stunning view. Shame about the freezing cold weather and massive hailstone deluge…
This week I managed to get up to see the From Russia exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London. In particular, I was keen to see the collections of French art assembled by Shchukin and Morozov, reappearing for the first time in the West since they were bought in the early years of the 20th century.
To be honest, I found the exhibition bit of a disappointment generally. A lot of the Russian stuff I found very poor and/or highly derivative. However, it was worth the price of admission alone for the relatively small number of paintings by Cezanne, Derain, Matisse, and Picasso. There were also some fine works by Kandinsky and Malevich on display. My highlights:
Paul Cezanne, Bridge Over the Marne at Creteil (1894?)
Pablo Picasso, Farm Woman (bust) (1908)
Henri Matisse, Nude (Black & Gold) (1908)
I had never seen this Matisse before, and it completely blew me away: the boldness of execution, the use of colour. It’s so rough, so far removed from ‘reality’, and yet manages to be a totally convincing representation of the woman. Sculptural!
Henri Matisse, Harmony In Red (1908)
One of my favourite Matisse’s. I would have paid the £11 just to come and see this, and it didn’t disappoint. The image above gives no real indication of the impact it has in real life: it’s huge—over 2 metres wide—and the depth and richness of that red really is something. Interestingly, this painting was originally called Harmony In Blue, but just before it was due to be delivered to Shchukin Matisse repainted it. Although you can’t see it on the image above (which has been cropped slightly), Matisse left a thin strip of the original blue around the edge. This creates the illusion that this huge expanse of red is somehow floating on the canvas: a brilliant touch.
Wassily Kandinsky, Winter (1909)
Kazimir Malevich, Red Square (1915)
Kazimir Malevich, Black Circle (c.1923)
Finally, there was a large model of Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International. The model wasn’t all that fantastic, but there was a film looping in the same room that showed what St. Petersburg would have looked like had it been built. In other words, they taken archive footage and inserted a CGI model of the building into the landscape, and ‘aged’ the model so that it blended in with the grainy black & white film stock. Incredibly convincing.
Although this isn’t that film, here’s a similar short from YouTube that at least gives an impression of what I’m talking about:
So, despite my reservations about much of the work on show, I’m really glad I made the effort to go. It really was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to directly experience some great works of art. Sweet…