Sunday, 26 October 2014

Pictures at an exhibition

Anslem Kiefer, Royal Academy of the Arts, London. October 2014.

Rebecca was keen to see this exhibition but unsure if it was my thing (I am pretty conservative and mainstream in my liking/understanding/appreciation of the art world) but I do like to try new things and so off we went to the RA no thanks to the combined efforts of various rail companies.

In advance Rebecca had warned me that some of Kiefer's work was bleak but thanks to the excellent website run by the Royal Academy I watched some films about the artist and his work and entered the exhibition with an open mind.

Like so many exhibitions where there is an audio guide the first room was a bit of a nightmare with people walking in and stopping but after this it thinned out and there was plenty of space to really spend some time looking at the pieces displayed.

I can't say I liked it all, but I had a very visceral response to many of the pieces and some of them grew more and more haunting the longer I spent looking at them. Some of the work I found myself rationalising in to things I was familiar with in an attempt to understand them and a few (many of the ones including the sunflowers below) I treated like astronomy.  The longer you actually look directly at something the less clear it becomes, but when you look to one side you clearly see the image...

The real downside to the exhibition was that they had run out of leaflets/guides to the works and so if you didn't take the audio guide then there was very little description to help you understand the pictures and installations - this was liberating in a way as we could invent our own narratives to them but I'm pretty sure we were wide of the mark!

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