Daniel Buren Catch as Catch Can – The Baltic Centre

15 October 2014 § Leave a comment

It is easy to think of Daniel Buren simplistically as the ‘stripe man’.  Whilst it is useful for some to remember, and others to denigrate Buren by reference to his trademark wide stripes, there is of course much more to his art than that. As France’s leading conceptual artist he has punctuated the past 50 years with unforgettable interventions, controversial critical texts, thought-provoking public art projects and engaging collaborations.

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In the sixties Buren developed a radical form of conceptual art, a ‘degree zero of painting’, creating works which drew attention to the relationship between art and context. Abandoning traditional painting he adopted a wide vertical stripe, used as a ‘visual tool’ to prompt a reading of the work’s surroundings as well as just the work itself. The stripes were variously made with paint, fabric, paper and tape often appearing outside the formal gallery space, made in situ, and responding to a particular location whilst appropriating and colouring the space .

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For his latest exhibition at the Baltic Centre the work is best considered in two parts. In the level 3 galleries it is easy to see the development from his earlier, simpler work. The strong colours remain but here are not only stripes but geometric arrangements  whilst their structure has also become more sculptural and architectural.

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Fibre optic works from the Electric Light series unfurl down the walls, glowing sensuously. There are a selection of reliefs, paintings and sculptures which bend, zig zag or form 3D reliefs cleverly playing with depth, surface, colour and architectural space.

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Arguably better still is the second part of the exhibition – a large-scale commission for the Level 4 gallery where Buren has coated the expansive skylight windows in geometric ‘gel’ panels of seven different colours.

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The whole space has effectively been appropriated as an architectural canvas for the projected light. I giant kaleidoscope if you like. To heighten the effect a series of angled mirrors have been propped around the floor casting light throughout the space.

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During our visit the sun popped back and forth from behind scudding clouds and alternately added even more colour to an already vivid display. One can imagine changing effects and sensations throughout the day.

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Further coloured panels were also commissioned for the front of the building with a varying effect either from outdoors as you approach the space or indoors – in particular riding the glass sided lift past the arrangement.

For further information visit www.balticmill.com

conceptual art and chaos

18 March 2011 § Leave a comment

Loosely on the theme of my recent post ‘Computer Geeks and the Artists Statement’  I felt that should inform everyone about an upcoming event organised by The Speaker Society and taking place at one of the more enlightened London Galleries: Paradise Row. On the 22 March 2011 Simon Baker will be giving a lecture entitled Conceptual Art and Chaos. Whether the lecture is part of the problem or part of the solution I will leave you to judge. It is certainly a debate that is needed and should prove very interesting – I quote directly from the press release below:

What would it mean to think about the notion of the work of art at the beginning of the twenty-first century by considering the provocative proposition that conceptual art is at the end of its tether; how would this conceptual bankruptcy manifest itself and what kinds of alternative practices might force themselves into play?

This talk will take as its starting point the premise that the notion of progress or development in contmeporary conceptual art has become radically compromised by the inward-spiral of self-referentiality inherent to conceptual practice itself: that what was originally a radical component of critical practice in terms of the historic avant-gardes has become the spanner in the works, resulting in an ornamental neo-roccoco parody of criticality, in which production seizes itself up into chrystalline inertia.

How in other words, should we understand the relationship between form and content in a context in which reality is increasingly mediated and digested through conceptual conceits? Is the ‘real’ which was supposed to have returned in conceptual practice years ago now ready to side step it completely, and just turn up, an awkward, uninvited and unwanted guest?

Much more of a series of questions that suggested answers, this talk will consider issues of political and emotional engagement, immediacy, idiocy, mediocrity and failure in the hypothetical aftermath of conceptual art.’

The event details:

Tuesday 22 March 2011 | 7 pm for a 7:30 start – Places are limited so booking is essential. To make a reservation, please contact: info@thespeakerssociety.org. Price: £3 | Concessions: £2. Location: Paradise Row Gallery, Address: 74 Newman Street, London, W1T 3DB. For more information visit http://www.thespeakerssociety.org/

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