It’s been a while since I visited a London gallery exhibition and suddenly today I saw not just one but 3! I met with an old friend, Sharon who is always great company and makes visiting exhibitions such a pleasure, over and above the simple act of ‘just visiting’. Unfortunately the day didn’t get off to the best start with my train being delayed and a journey which should take just over an hour ended up taking 2 hours and 15 minutes! (I feel a delay claim to Southern Trains coming on!) Finally we met up outside The Ritz and made our way to the Thomas Dane Gallery in Duke Street to see a short film loop by the award-winning director and Turner prize-winning artist – Steve McQueen. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I am sure what I saw wasn’t it. The film loop was actually shot by cinematographer Robbie Muller in Grenada in 2002 and has a slightly disembodied and rather harrowing voice-over commentary about the death of ‘Ashes’. It was quite an intense emotional experience connecting the smiling, handsome young man in the film with the discussion about the death by murder of ‘Ashes’.
Time to move on, and off to Flowers in Cork Street and the most fantastic and stunning paintings of ladies by the American artist Aleah Chapin. Twice life size, these incredible photo-realistic paintings depict ladies in their natural glory, bearing all proudly and with no attempt to alter or disguise their fabulous bodies. Titled ‘Maiden, Mother, Child and Crone’ the works explore the female body at different ages, raising questions about how life affects us as we age and how life contributes to the aging process. They also confront the expectations of society about how we age and what happens when those expectations are not met. I would highly recommend this one to anyone who is in the area before 8th November.
‘It was the sound of their feet’ Aleah Chapin
oil on linen 80 x120 inches at Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, London
After a short break in sunny Green Park with coffee and a wrap from Pret, it was on to the Jubilee Line and off to Bermondsey to the White Cube and the latest offering from Tracey Emin. Now, I have blogged about Ms Emin previously when I saw her work at the Turner Contemporary in Margate a couple of years ago. Sadly this ‘new’ offering has done nothing to change my opinion of her and her work. In fact, this ‘new’ exhibition appeared to be an almost exact replica of the one at Turner Contemporary. A series of scribbled line drawings depicting the artist, usually semi-recumbent or lying down completely, naked with small annotated titles to give the viewer a clue that this picture is actually different to the one next to it. A side room held half a dozen large-scale embroideries of some of the images in the main space, while a second room contained some ‘sculpture’ – blobs of clay (or maybe even bronze) bringing the drawings into 3D. The best bit about the exhibition was a notice outside the room showing a film loop of a lecture by Emin discussing the exhibition where she apparently suddenly comes upon the realisation that her work is not about the female as ‘Other’ but is actually about herself! Surely she must have been the only person in the entire world who did not realise this. For me, the exhibition is dull, repetitive and boringly narcissistic – pretty much standard fare from this artist I think. I am glad I didn’t pay money to see it.
Now I am looking forward to tomorrow when I am off to see the work by another Brit – the National Treasure who is Grayson Perry at the National Portrait Gallery, followed by an attempt to see the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by Tom Piper. This has had a real mixed bag of reviews so worth a visit, more on this tomorrow!