London; full, vibrant, stimulating, exhausting sometimes. But never ever boring.
London explodes with things to see and we have a packed Must-See-Do list this summer.
So it is with the considerable help of gallery companion Wendy Osgerby, that we have indulged upon a tiny slice of London’s significant cultural offering and ‘taken in a little art’.
Tate Britain’s major retrospective on British sculptor Barbara Hepworth stands down river from the Canadian born artist Agnes Martin exhibition at Tate Modern; which sits just across the corridor from the Russian-born, Paris-residing artist/designer Sonia Delaunay.
Tate Modern’s curators have been clever in timing the last two together. One show emphasises line, the other an explosion of colour and dynamic movement. Both are concerned with repetition for different ends. Martin’s pared down grids are still and meditative, while Delaunay’s patches and circles reflect the frenetic modernity of twentieth-century Paris.
There is a genuine honesty and an integrity that connects all three artist’s work. In each case their work is concerned with authenticity - this is art that searches for expression through form. No ‘send-up’, no self-aware, self-referential post-modernism has taken hold. The work feels so incredibly, grippingly, ‘real’. There is a truth to the materials; graphite lines and paint on canvas. Shaped wood and stone and bronze. Vivid gouaches and tapestry in abstract shapes.
But there was something in the experience of ‘the hang’, perhaps the scale of the work (formulaically large and then unexpectedly small), possibly the adherence to her own rigid and inflexible methodology, maybe the reduction of colour, the simplicity of the composition, the pursuit of perfection, that made the Agnes Martin exhibition the stand out, for us.
Influenced significantly by her 'knock-out' male contemporaries, Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns, Barnett Newman, Martin carved a quiet path in the modern world of abstract painting and this exhibition tilts the light and throws her out of the shadows and into the historical visual canon.
Go and see it if you possibly can.
With thanks to Wendy Osgerby, art historian (and brilliant gallery companion).
There are others too, of course….
The Carsten Höller Decision exhibition at The Hayward Gallery will play with your mind. It’s not simple in any way at all, it quite literally turns your eyes in your head.
Also on our Must-See-Do list is the Joseph Cornell Wanderlust exhibition at the RA. If you’re interested in collecting this is pretty much compulsory viewing (note to self, book now).
And of course The Jerwood Makers Open 2015 is on until 30th August - and needs to be seen.