I decided to make the most of the opportunity for a visit to London and stay for two days. After researching current exhibitions, I wanted to visit the Space Shifters exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, the Tate Modern and join the group from college at the Victoria Miro to see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition. These two days became a moment in time where I was able to see artwork that alters the perception – definitely a mind altering two days.
My first stop was the Space Shifters exhibition at Hayward Gallery. Warned as I entered, that the exhibition is design to make you feel disorientated, the Space Shifters exhibits certainly met that objective. An awe-inspiring collection of work from 20 international artists with eye-catching sculptures and installations throughout.
Alicja Kwade’s piece WeltenLinie (2017) is a steel structure that uses double-sided mirrors and cleverly situated objects. I found myself tentatively navigating the structure, not always sure that I was looking through the object or at a mirror. The structure seemed to become almost a landscape in its own right with my perception of the space being somewhat greater than my perception of the objects.
A turntable originally used by the American military and repurposed into the Untitled Parabolic Lens by Fred Eversley. The process used by Eversley to create these parabolic sculptures intrigued me. Using a potter’s wheel to create moulds partially filled with liquid polyester that forms a symmetical curve once cool and hardened. Being able to look through this piece as well as at this piece gave the potential for different perspectives that would be continually changing depending on the light and the people around the piece. I really did feel this was a glass piece when I first saw it – reminded me very much of a prism that I had as a child.
The main reason I wanted to attend the Space Shifters was to see Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama. A collection of stainless steel orbs as an installation. First displayed in the Venice Biennale in 1966 as a large-scale intervention, with the plastic mirrored spheres sold for two dollars a piece. A surreal landscape of glistening reflective orbs I found myself drawn into the reflective nature of the piece, attempting to identify markers in the room within the reflective surfaces.
Fascinated by architectural structures and gallery spaces, I always enjoy visiting the Hayward for the purely enjoying the space that this gallery embodies. The Square Tube Series by Charlott Posenenske blended effortlessly with the architecture of the building, so much so that it would have been easy to overlook the piece as part of the building. Prefabricated galvanised steel units that at first impression seem to have always been there, as part of the fabric of the building – yet on closer inspection they follow routes that lead to dead ends – open into nothingness and simply do not make sense – subverting the space that they inhabit.
Having seen the piece 20:50 (1987) by Richard Wilson when it was previously exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery, I was not even sure I would queue to see this piece. However, in the end, I did queue and it was very worth it. The two viewings gave me completely different experiences. At the Saatchi Gallery, I had viewed this piece from a balcony above that gave me the essence of the reflection in the engine oil, but little else.
At the Hayward, however I unwittingly walked along the inclining narrow passageway into the centre of the room I immediately experienced a sense of vertigo. This was strange for me, as it is not something that usually bothers me. I really had to struggle in my mind to remind myself that I was standing on the floor and not on the edge of a parapet far above the reflections of the ceiling around me, even if that is how it felt.
The Sky Mirror, Blue (2016) by Anish Kapoor dominates the outside sculpture terrace. I had plenty of time to watch this piece as I queued for 20:50. This concave mirror turns the space around it upside down and appears almost like a portal into a different dimension as we can look through the piece at the reflected skyline above.
In particular, I wanted to re-visit the Artist Room for Joseph Beuys, however found a few interesting things to see whilst I was there.
The end of the Twentieth Century (1983–5) by Joseph Beuys an installation of basalt rocks roughly measuring between one and two and half metres in length with a cone shaped hole drilled into one end. The holes smoothed and voered in felt before the previously removed polished basalt placed back into each of the holes. Prior to Beuys death in 1986, the work had not be installed.
This work suggests a relationship between the natural ancient world and the new world that we live in today. His ecological concerns during this final stage of his life may have been of influence in this piece.
I happened upon The Clock (2010) installation by Christian Marclay quite by accident. Prior to viewing the piece I had no real understanding other than it was a film called The Clock. I soon realised that this montage of film was running in local time and I then realised that the film was a 24-hour piece. The film covers many thousands of film clips collected from decades of cinematic history. I became quite intrigued. Not only by the fact that the film serves as an accurate way to measure time, but by the painstaking research that must have taken place prior to the film being produced. I sat for 45 minutes watching this film and could have quite easily sat for many hours – quite an achievement for someone who gets bored easily.
The Between Object and Architecture
The Between Object and Architecture exhibit at the Tate modern shows a collection of sculptural pieces in a way that is more engaging for the viewer. Given my interest in architecture, the geometric shapes and configurations were interesting for me to see.
The artists in this exhibition used materials found in the everyday buildings around us; some materials used were from construction and others from building sites and the street. The aim was to provide a more direct encounter with the sculptural objects for the viewer.
The Passing Winter (2005) by Yayoi Kusama was the piece that I wanted to see prior to visiting the Between Object and Architecture exhibit. I was intrigued to know how the process of making for this piece.
A glass cube placed on top of an x-shaped pedestal, which is lined on the inside and outside with mirrors. Each side has three circles cut into the glass revealing an infinite world of circles in the middle of the cube. The circles seem to float with the surface altering depending on the position of viewing and the light in the room.
I really enjoyed being able to interact with the Pavilion Suspended in a Room I (2005) by Chrisina Iglesias. You are encouraged to navigate through the latticed panels providing a sense of being enclosed and detached from the rest of the room. Initially the panels appear to be matting suspended from the ceiling, yet on closer inspection words begin to appear in the panels. These words are taking from the science fiction novel
Rendezvous with Rama (1973) by Arthur C Clarke. This piece relates to a series by the artist known as Celosia (Spanish for jealousy or slated shutter/blind).
Drawn to the piece, Stack (1975) by Tony Cragg, and fascinated by the every-day materials used to create a solid cube by packing them together, wood, magazines and building materials making the cube personify the layering found in geological structures.
A suggestion towards our relationship with the natural world and the impact of man on nature, using the man made to represent something you would see in the natural world.
Victoria Miro Gallery
I was very fortunate to visit “The Moving Moment when I went to the universe” exhibition by Yayoi Kusama at the Victoria Miro gallery. A collection of works from the My Eternal Soul series, a series of bronze sculptures (pumpkins and flowers) and the large mirrored infinity room.
On arrival we were ushered three at a time into the “Infinity mirrored room – my heart is dancing into the universe, 2018” to spend 60 seconds in the otherworldly installation. The inifinity room with mirrored walls filled with paper lanterns with changing coloured lighting inside. Not enough time to fully appreciate this room and feel the effects that it might have on you, however even just that short space of time was enough to make you feel you had stepped into another realm.
The Bronze Pumpkins exhibited reference the cultivation of seeds by her family and her fascination with the natural world. A plant that appears repeatedly throughout her work, appearing in prints, sculptures, installations, paintings and environmental pieces.
In the garden were the painted bronze Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky (2018).
Upstairs in the gallery were paintings from My Eternal Soul series. These large-scale canvases now form part of a collection of hundreds of works. They are surreal and colourful with a strong representation of repeating patterns reminding me almost of ancient populations and shamanic symbology with geological structures and patterns.
Having not painted for some time, these paintings have inspired me to pick up a paintbrush again and continue to paint from my imagination, akin to the paintings of my earlier years.
I was especially interested in the exhibition by Heidi Bucher combining some of her latex works created during the last two decades of her life including films that document her whilst working with the latex pieces. Known for her casting of room interiors, objects, clothing and the body using latex skinnings. The skinnings create a lasting physical impression of something that held a memory for her. What I found interesting was the process of lining the objects with a gauze or mesh before adding the liquid latex and removing when almost dry. The addition of the gauze creates a stronger final material for display.