Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Victoria Miro Gallery, London

'The Vanity of Small Differences' exhibition, Grayson Perry, 07 June- 11 August 2012

A few days ago i visited the Victoria Miro gallery in London, which was a gallery i hadnt been to before as its a little out of the centre of London and not so widely publicised as some others. The Vanity Of Small Differences by the artist Grayson Perry consisted of six tapestries of scenarios 'exploring his fascination with taste and the visual story it tells of our interior lives.' Looking at the work, it is clear there is a central focus on political themes, morals and class and what is right and what is wrong. I enjoyed the exhibition very much as the traditional medium of tapestry used was very unusual in contrast with the content of the work. The bright colours and composition of the pictures were very distorted so each vision seemed like a dream or a personal memory of the artist. There was so much happening in each picture and unbelievable attention to detail that coming away from a piece and then going back to looking at it again, there were new things to take in each time.

Here is the official description from the Victoria Miro Gallery about the exhibition:

'In The Vanity of Small Differences Grayson Perry explores his fascination with taste and the visual story it tells of our interior lives in a series of six tapestries at Victoria Miro and three programmes, All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry, for Channel 4. The artist goes on a safari amongst the taste tribes of Britain, to gather inspiration for his artworks, literally weaving the characters he meets into a narrative partly inspired by Hogarth's A Rake's Progress.

Grayson Perry comments: "The tapestries tell the story of class mobility, for I think nothing has as strong an influence on our aesthetic taste as the social class in which we grow up. I am interested in the politics of consumerism and the history of popular design but for this project I focus on the emotional investment we make in the things we choose to live with, wear, eat, read or drive. Class and taste run deep in our character - we care. This emotional charge is what draws me to a subject".

Perry has always worked with traditional media; ceramics, cast iron, bronze, printmaking and tapestry. He is interested in how each historic category of object accrues over time intellectual and emotional baggage. Tapestry is the art form of grand houses: depicting classical myths, historical and religious scenes and epic battles. In this series of works Perry plays with idea of using this ancient allegorical art to elevate the commonplace dramas of modern British life.

The artist's primary inspiration was A Rake's Progress (1732 -33) by William Hogarth, which in eight paintings tells the story of Tom Rakewell, a young man who inherits a fortune from his miserly father, spends it all on fashionable pursuits and gambling, marries for money, gambles away a second fortune, goes to debtors' prison and dies in a madhouse.

The Vanity of Small Differences tells the story of the rise and demise of Tim Rakewell and is composed of characters, incidents and objects Perry encountered on journeys through Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and The Cotswolds. Hogarth has long been an influence on Perry's works, his Englishness, his robust humour and his depiction of, in his own words, 'modern moral subjects'. The secondary influence comes from Perry's favourite form of art, early Renaissance painting.

Each of the six images, to a greater or lesser extent, pays homage to a religious work. Including Masaccio's Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Matthias Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece, Rogier Van de Weyden's Lamentation and three different paintings of The Annunciation by Carlo Crivelli, Grünewald and Robert Campin. The images also reference the pictorial display of wealth and status in The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck and Mr & Mrs Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough. Woven into each tapestry are snatches of text, each one in the voice of a participant in the scene illustrated. Each image also features a small dog, reminiscent of Hogarth's beloved pug, Trump.'

Below are the six tapestries that make up this exhibition:

The Agony in the Carpark, 2012

Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close, 2012

The Adoration of the Cage Fighters, 2012

The Upper Class at Bay, 2012

The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal, 2012

Lamentation, 2012

'Press Release' exhibition, Sarah Sze, 20 June- 11 August 2012

Another exhibition which i loved was Press Release by the site-specific installation artist Sarah Sze who uses everyday objects and materials such as wool, string, match sticks, lamp lights, pegs, twigs, fruit, water bottles, paint tins etc to make different situations in a floor space which are composed in an intrigueing way, almost like seeing through the eyes of an inventor or being let into the exciting world of an inventor's work shop. They were so detailed and elaborate and cleverely imagined, you could definately tell they were created over a substantial amount of time.

Here is the description about the exhibition composed by the gallery:

'Victoria Miro is delighted to announce an exhibition of new work by Sarah Sze, her second solo show with the gallery. Characteristic of Sze's expansive practice, the exhibition will comprise
several interrelated installations - conceptual constellations of everyday objects.

Over both floors, Sze's latest body of work re-imagines the gallery as a kind of laboratory where processes of observation, examination, and exploration are in progress. In the lower gallery, a series of discrete works serve as accumulated evidence of a project - each sculpture it's own portable, temporary site, a complex system marking a location with an individual, precisely choreographed gesture. In the upper gallery, from across a darkened expanse a single, illuminated large-scale installation becomes an archaeology of its own: an elaborate concave assemblage seemingly captured in a moment of either construction or ruin.

Preoccupied with conceptions of how we continually locate ourselves within space, Sze's works unfold as investigations of the psychological, and even emotional, understandings of our environment. We are always finding ourselves in space, oscillating between orientation and disorientation, and with each location we experience accompanies an evolving history.

In the works, references to instruments of measure and mapping are drawn, as are the worlds they strive to ascertain. The act of looking prompted by Sze's intricately constructed sculptures and the detail of her materials is underscored here as a unique, yet shared, encounter with place: a moment of discovery, a remnant of an experience.

Biographical information: Sarah Sze will represent the United States of America at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Sze has exhibited internationally, with solo presentations at MUDAM, Luxembourg (2012); Asia Society, New York (2011-2012); Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, Nice, France (2011); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle, UK (2009); Maison Hermès Forum, Tokyo (2008); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden, (2006); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, (2003); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002); Fondation Cartier in Paris (1999); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1999); and ICA London (1998). Recent permanent installations include Still Life with Landscape (Model for a Habitat), The High Line, New York and The Distances Where Magnets Pull, University of California, San Francisco, both (2011). Sarah Sze was born in Boston in 1969 and currently lives and works in New York.'

Narcissus Garden, By Yayoi Kusama, 2008

This installational work was something apart from the exhibitions by another artist called Yayoi Kusama consisting of giant metal spherical shapes floating on the pond water like massive ball bearings. The way they gathered together reminded me of multiplying bacteria or some kind of alien growth, though they were also very beautiful in the natural light and reflecting from the water beneath. There was a dazzling contrast between something that was very beautiful but something that felt dangerous and overwhelming at the same time.