Thursday, March 14, 2013

Views

Last weekend we went to Tate Britain. and one of the exhibitions we saw was Looking at the view.  This is one of those marvellous bringings together of different styles and mediums, but with the same subject: how artists have depicted and used landscape.  A really comprehensive review of the exhibition can be found in the That's how the light gets in blog.
I enjoy this kind of show because it makes me look at both formerly quickly categorised/dismissed work alongside that which I admire, and those that are unknown to me.  For instance, I found it interesting to consider Patrick Caulfield's After Lunch as a landscape when I had always had it firmly fixed as an interior containing one of those naff wall-sized posters of a picture postcard view.  By including this picture with others which used the window view of landscape it somehow turned my consideration on its head.  I'm afraid that it still does not do much for me however.
I loved the close juxtaposition of two pieces on one narrow span of wall: Graham Sutherland's Welsh landscape with roads:
Graham Sutherland OM, ‘Welsh Landscape with Roads’ 1936
next to Dan Holdsworth's Machine for living:
Dan Holdsworth, ‘A Machine for Living: Untitled’ 1999
More than just the colour and the composition seemed to tie them together for me.
My favourite piece of all, however, is a film by Willie Doherty entitled Ghost Story.  It mixes an unremarkable journey down an ordinary country road in Ireland, hemmed in by shrubs and trees, and the occasional flash of urban confused ways, with narrated memories of the past Troubles - the ghosts.  I found it mesmerising and moving - perhaps questioning whether its strength came from the sound and the imagination rather than the visual.  Nonetheless, I find that I can conjure up that country lane, and those subway passages in my mind's eye with no problem.
Paul Graham, ‘Union Jack Flag in Tree, County Tyrone’ 1985, printed 1993-4
Paul Graham's photograph Union Jack Flag in Tree, County Tyrone (1985) was also a favourite.  Initially it looks unremarkable, but somehow it drew me to it, and then I spotted the flag caught high at the top of the tree and laughed.  I so enjoy displays like this - they make me think about so much more than the theme.

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