Friday, 22 February 2013

A bigger splash makes me think

Today I've been lucky enough to spend a few hours socialising with two different friends at two different locations. I met my first friend at En Cas & Espresso café near Old Street where we enjoyed some food and watched snow falling outside.

I met my second friend inside Tate Modern by the bookshop which is next to the Turbine Hall. Since it is often easier to walk round London than go by public transport I made this journey on foot. I walked along City Road until I passed Moorgate Tube station. I wiggled my way round the City until I reached Cheapside then onto Queen Victoria Street, over Millennium Bridge to arrive at the forbidding and fortress-like museum of modern art on the south bank of the Thames where I noticed that the tide was in.

Along the way I dodged traffic and other pedestrians, giving way here and taking the initiative there. Once inside the museum I had to do the same to navigate my way to the bookshop to meet my friend. Then we had to travel on several escalators to finally reach floor four so we could visit A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance.

There are 13 rooms devoted to this exhibition and the bigger splash refers to the David Hockney (1967) painting in Room One, of a swimming pool with a burst of water as its focal point. On the opposite side of the room there is a Jackson Pollock painting (circa 1950) on display on the floor and on the wall above a documentary showing the artist at work on this same piece. I think I liked this exhibit most out of the whole exhibition.

The first paragraph of the exhibition notes states: "A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance looks at the dynamic relationship between painting and performance since the 1950s, and at how experiments in performance have expanded the possibilities for contemporary painting."

I confess I don't really understand what this means but we ploughed through every room doing our best to take in what there was to offer. At one point I asked myself: "If I had made this morning's journey covered in wet paint and had someone film me doing it, then shown it on TV in an art gallery would it count as art?" I really was that puzzled.

While I really didn't like watching female models being used as props and some of the images appeared to be quite sadistic I was intrigued by Geta Brătescu's films of her painting her face and then cleaning it all off again. Likewise I enjoyed the Polish artist Edward Krasiński's line of blue tape stuck all around Room Six at a fixed height and watching footage in Room Two of people firing guns at sacs of paint embedded in canvas devised by Niki de Saint Phalle made me laugh.

I found this exhibition very challenging and surprisingly thought provoking which I wasn't expecting when I walked into the first room and by the time we left Tate Modern I noticed that the tide was going out.