A Uni trip to Leeds over two days. We arrived early afternoon and had a couple of hours to visit the British Art Show at Leeds Art Gallery – enough to whet the appetite but not to see everything of interest. Fortunately we had more time the next day to catch up on the rest of it. As there was a lot of video art installation the extra time was needed.
The exhibition had taken over the whole of the gallery. Organised by Hayward Touring at Southbank Centre, 42 artists were chosen by curators Anna Colin and Lydia Yee, and some 26 of them produced new work specifically for this exhibition. It finishes here on Jan 10th, moving on to Edinburgh, Norwich and finally Southampton.
The guide tells us that ‘A central concern of British Art Show 8 is the changing role and status of the object at a time of increasing convergence between the real and the virtual… artists have developed new ways of thinking about, and approaching, materiality.’
Some highlights for me: in terms of video, Mikhail Karikis Children of Unquiet, Rachel Maclean’s Feed Me, and Bedwyr Williams’ Century Egg all caught my attention for an extended viewing. Materially, Caroline Achaintre’s large wall-mounted textile pieces were a big draw, I was also interested in her ceramic mask pieces, for reference with my own work; and Aaron Angell’s ceramic pieces were displayed as tableaux.
Other textile works included Alexandre de Cunha’s Kentucky, constructed of mop heads and taking up a whole wall, Simon Fujiwara’s Fabulous Beasts, and Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin’s tapestry based on forensic evidence from Sigmund Freud’s couch, displayed with a monitor showing the source material. Jessica Warboys’ Sea Painting is a huge canvas that is literally made by the sea as her ‘collaborator’, traces of a ‘performance’, with a new piece to be made for each venue at nearby beaches.
Nicolas Deshayes’ sculptural work Cramps and Vein Section (or cave painting) were visually exciting but produced by industrial fabricators – the artist has the concept but instructs others to make the work… Other sculptural pieces included Magali Reus’ wall-mounted pieces based on padlocks and Daniel Sinsel’s paintings using appropriated material.
My overall impression was that a lot of the art on display necessitated reading the artists’ information displayed on the wall, explaining the thinking behind their work. The viewer is expected to work hard in contemporary art, it is not intended to be simply a sublime experience drinking in the beauty of it all…
It’s impossible to show everything that caught my eye and the camera of my tablet, so here are just a few to whet your appetite: