patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘sculpture

James Turrell at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

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I love Deer Shelter Skyspace, 2006 by James Turrell, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It is a large square chamber with an aperture cut into the roof, through which you get a “heightened vision of the sky, seemingly transformed into a trompe l’oeil painting”.
 

I interpret it as a hallowed space, I feel the necessity to speak in hushed tones when I am in there, and I notice that others seem to do so too. However, today, asking others about their experience I realise that this is not universally so. I was going to suggest that the sacred space is always an aesthetic (immanent) rather than a spiritual (transcendent) experience.

When I visited today, my brother pointed out that rain had caused the Skyspace to be ‘mirrored’ on the ground. My gaze was so directed towards the sky that I had not seen it before.

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Written by Andy Parkinson

September 1, 2011 at 7:52 am

Second star to the right and straight on until…

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In my continued quest to find abstract art outside of London, I find myself in the centre of Swansea, where, opposite the Dylan Thomas Theatre,

dylan thomas

just a few hundred yards from my Hotel, I discover…

mission

the Mission Gallery, once a seaman’s mission, now a bodacious space (dude) for contemporary art.

There will be abstract paintings here from late in July. And right now there is a most excellent show of sculpture by Ben Rowe entitled Second star to the Right and Straight on Until Morning. If you know that the directions to Neverland referred to here, are also quoted in one of the Star Trek movies, then you are very likely to get all the other references in this exhibition. The sculptures are themed on popular sci-fi/fantasy films, mostly from the 1980’s, films I loved too, like Back to the Future and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Entering the gallery I am struck first by the light in what would have once been a church sanctuary, and then by the smell. Incense? No, MDF – the material from which these sculptures are crafted.

mission gallery

Mission gallery, Ben Rowe, Second star to the right and straight on until morning, courtesy of the artist and Mission Gallery

Batteries are not Included, is a keyboard with wires from it attached to a totem-like object. The reference is not to the Disney film of the same name, but to Masters of the Universe, the art work being a replica of the ‘mysterious cosmic key’.

In the centre of the dome shaped sanctuary is the time-travelling phone box from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, reproduced in MDF monochrome, looking like all the colour has been drained out of it, as it is just about the de-materialise.

Bogus Flux

Ben Rowe, In a Constant State of Bogus Flux, 2010, reclaimed MDF, Image by courtesy of the artist and Mission Gallery

The sculptures in this show are modes of transport, as simple as a door or a portal or more complex like the flux capacitor or the time-travelling phone box. And they are sculptural metaphors for art, as a means of escape into an alternative reality. The gallery space, whilst existing in the ‘real world’ at the same time presents a door into another one.

There is something ironic in the reproduction of hi-tech gadgets, looking so plausibly like they would be capable of transporting us to impossible locations, yet so clearly in MDF:  even if the ‘real’ versions were able to do so, the replicas lack any such potency.

To borrow Elull‘s terms, mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, are the artworks imitations of a (fictitious) technology, itself both imitation and compensation for (real) technology?

Second Star to the Right and Straight on Until Morning is showing at Mission Gallery until 24 July 2011.

Written by Andy Parkinson

July 10, 2011 at 6:18 am

In the garden at Hepworth Wakefield

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In the garden (misty wet with rain) at The Hepworth is The Upper Mill, 2011, by James Pyman. It’s a drawing of the Upper Mill, scaled up and wrapped around the actual Upper Mill building. (Click on the photo for a full size image.)

upper mill

James Pyman, The Upper Mill, 2011, The Hepworth Wakefield

The map is not the territory, the territory is not even the territory, but it is wrapped around it.

Written by Andy Parkinson

June 4, 2011 at 8:37 am

Hepworth Wakefield!

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We had just under an hour to visit the Hepworth,

on Bank Holiday Monday…not enough time, especially as there was no parking (today only, I understand – though the parking at the site does look limited) and finding our way to the park & ride (good idea, but only provided for the first two weekends) delayed us further. We got the last bus of the day.

last bus

Park & Ride

Hepworth Wakefield

A magnificent building, I liked the outside, but the inside wow! A great space, in which the sculpture looked just right. In his blog, Tim Garratt says it’s “16000  square feet making it the largest exhibition space outside London”. I found that difficult to believe. It didn’t feel big. Perhaps that’s because each gallery made such good use of the space, it was uncluttered. Hence, viewing the work was a delight.

I was surprised by how many paintings were on view, and I particularly enjoyed the gallery exploring the context in which Hepworth worked. The Piet Mondrian painting was striking, as were the Ben Nicholsons, looking particularly good in this space. Two paintings that surprised me by their brilliance were Quarante Huit Quai d’Auteil by Winifred Nicholson and Forms on a White Ground by John Piper. I hate John Pipers architecture in landscape semi-abstract things, but this one really got me. He was a much better abstractionist than I had realised. The little paintings in this show had a monumentality way beyond their actual size – and whilst I know that’s such a cliché, it is how I experienced them. They absolutely deserve a second, third and fourth look.

In the Garden (misty wet with rain) there’s Heather and Ivan Morison’s The Black Cloud

black cloud

Black Cloud with photographers

I am yours

I am yours and Black Cloud

It is a magnificent space and I will be returning very soon.

hepworth purchase

No method, no guru, no catalogue, I hurriedly scribbled down the details of the paintings that had interested me the most

(Van Morrison fans will have noticed that the mention of Heather and Ivan got me remembering lines from In the Garden)

art signs

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I have written before about signs and art.

This sign is art

Arcadia

Leo Fitzmaurice, Arcadia (one of a series scattered around YSP)

whereas this sign is not

Just because it is at Yorkshire Sculpture Park does not mean it is art

The function of the Leo Fitzmaurice sign is different to the function of the caution sign. However this could simply be that they are differing kinds of sign. One is a label and the other is a warning.

Though Arcadia is a label sign, the thing (or place) labelled is absent, bringing our attention to its absence. It reminds us that the map is not the territory, the name is not the thing named (Korzybski).

The Arcadia sign refers to a past, almost forgotten, inaccessible reality (or myth) and elicits action which is more like not-acting: the act of reflecting. For me, that makes it different to other label signs.

In one way the caution sign is similar, it requires a ‘slowing down’ a reflectiveness of sorts. Though its hardly a reflection on signs and their relationship to our experience, or on art and life. If the caution sign were to elicit this kind of reflectiveness it would have failed to do its job, we would no longer be proceeding with caution.

Here’s another sign from YSP (again not art)

Warning sign alerting us to read signs!

Warning sign alerting us to read signs!

It is a sign about signs! (You might need to click on the image to get the smaller print.)

It reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons where Homer gets obsessed with putting up safety signs and eventually resorts to putting up signs exhorting us to take note of the signs.

Written by Andy Parkinson

May 10, 2011 at 7:11 am

the art of non-verbal communication

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The sign says

"Please do not climb on the Sol LeWitt"

yet the art work says

"Please climb on me"

The meaning of the communication is the response it elicits, not necessarily the intention of the communicator.

  

  

My guess is that  Sol LeWitt knew that one of the meanings of this piece would become  “climb on me”, maybe it is the message of all public sculptures ( some more than others).

The sign not to climb, the verbal communication, is incongruent with the non-verbal communication, the sign that is the art work itself. Possibly, that’s why people ignore it, or notice it after they have already transgressed! I suppose it’s a lot like “do not walk on the grass”.

Written by Andy Parkinson

May 3, 2011 at 8:17 am

sheep love sculpture

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At YSP the other day (see yesterday’s blog), I was amazed at how much the sheep seemed to appreciate this Barbara Hepworth (or is it by Henry Moore?)

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Sheep can’t read the sign that says “please do not climb on the sculptures” but they do seem to be able to read the non-verbal ‘sign’ that says “walk around me”.

Written by Andy Parkinson

May 1, 2011 at 8:23 am