5 October 2011 § Leave a comment
Entering the galleries of White Cube at Masons Yard to see Raqib Shaw’s latest works is reminiscent of viewing ancient treasures in a middle-eastern museum. Mythical scenes are played out in vivid colours, gilt and bejewelled to invoke the Paradise Lost of the title – a lost homeland of myth and fable and a reference to his Indian childhood.
The detail is mightily impressive. Shaw carefully and minutely manipulates pools of enamel and metallic paint with a porcupine quill bringing texture in to features like flowers and the surface of the moon. Rather like the technique used in cloisonné each area of paint is delineated with a raised edge – here of paint – which is then finished in gold. Drawing on the techniques of ancient craftsmen plus the style and imagery of Persian art and Hindu texts he forms his own modern mythology. Coloured glass crystals and beads are a final magical touch.
Look more closely however and you will find darker themes. Predators tear chunks of bloody flesh from their prey as more human characters undertake futile tasks. Upstairs the two sculptural bronze pools of Narcissus, based on fountains at Versailles feature swans pecking the innards from a screaming vampire/human form in a revision of the myth. There is endless detail – time will quickly pass as you lose yourself in the complexities of the work and detail of the narrative in each huge canvas.
This is an impressive show with a dozen large-scale works that include the eponymous Paradise Lost which is itself fully twelve feet long. With Shaw’s work nowadays reaching £500k plus at auction it would need a healthy bank balance to think of purchasing any of these works, but meanwhile get down to White Cube to enjoy these wonderful works whilst you can.
White Cube Masons Yard until 12 November 2011
18 April 2011 § Leave a comment
No, sadly not the Manchester band reforming for a new concert, but a group show at Masons Yard! White Cube’s curators have worked rather harder than Carl Freedman (last week) to create a conceptual theme. Building from a quote by trendy French philosopher Jacques Rancière – ‘The dream of a suitable political work of art is in fact the dream of disrupting the relationship between the visible, the sayable, and the thinkable without having to use the terms of a message as a vehicle’ – they have produced a coherent and interesting show from a powerful array of White Cube talent.
The big space here demands big works that do not get ‘lost’ in the airy cellar that serves as the main gallery. For this exhibition Miroslaw Balka‘s Kategorie (2005) is plonked in the centre and nicely fits within its surroundings. A solid, dark and forboding concrete tunnel six metres long and two metres high suitably reflects Balka’s references to wartime oppression and links neatly with Ranciere. The coloured strands that spin along its ceiling and which represent the uniform colours of categories of prisoner in the concentration camps are perhaps, for me, an allusion one stage too far. How much of an artists statement (if any?) should you have to read before you are able to understand at a work? Answers on a postcard please….
Elsewhere there are two excellent works by Julie Mehretu, who coincidentally appears a couple of days after I featured the ‘theft’ of her art in TV advertising (see blog). Black Ground (2008) features her trademark swirling vortex of shapes and marks – it is easy to stop and stare and get lost in her wonderful futurist / supremacist / abstract expressionist ‘multifaceted layers of space, place and time’.
The best of the rest for me is Mark Bradford. His densely-layered, collaged paintings incorporate salvaged materials like torn posters or newsprint. His abstract compositions reference alternative cartographies that burgeon within cities, such as the spread of economic underclasses or the movement of immigrant communities.
Also showing are photographs by Anselm Kiefer featuring his provocative Nazi salutes, David Hammons‘ with his black urban commentaries and Doris Salcedo‘s concrete entombed furniture. A neat exhibition well worth a visit. Continues until the 14 May 2011.