Saturday, 5 December 2009

A trip to Liverpool

Due to the random nature of my blog and moments in time appearing completely out of synch with each other I have no problem dropping in a quick post about my not so recent trip to liverpool many weeks after it happened.

On the 23rd October myself and roughly half of 3rd year made the trip over to Liverpool to have a look at Tate Liverpool and a few other select places. Having never been to Liverpool before,  and my heavily stereotyped views thinking that anything I took would be stolen and we'd all get mugged it was a pleasant surprise to see the sun shining and not one of us got even a little bit mugged. Actually thats a lie I have been to Liverpool before, I went to see Jimmy Eat World there, but was in and out job and I'd left before the scousers even realised i was even there, so it doesn't really count.

Joking aside Liverpool made a great first impression, the dock area that Tate Liverpool is situated in was pretty beautiful as cities go and the gallery itself was top notch.

At the time of visiting there were some pretty useful items on show. Having looked at Mark Rothko and Dan Flavin in my artist research for the silence brief it was a pleasant surprise to see a whole room of Rothkos Seagram Murals. Painted by Rothko as a set of restaurant murals originally they are some of the most ominous and powerful paintings made in my opinion. Deemed by some as boring or lacking in imagination/creativity I can spend hours staring at Rothkos work. In the same way that Pollock is often seen as 'the guy who throws paint' Rothko has a tendancy to be seen as 'the blocks of colour guy' but there is so much more to his work than that. Subtle use of shade and texture create these hugely powerful works that express far more than some of the obviously expressive works seen elsewhere in the gallery. Rothkos ability to turn large mono colour blocks into emotive, engaging works says far more about his ability as an artist than the largely ignorable yet photographic qualities of pre raphaelite work as seen later in the day at The Walker Gallery. 

It was also beneficial to see another work from Dan Flavin, having seen some of his work in the Berardo Gallery in Portugal (which I shall talk about at a later date) I was keen to see more from him. I see him as a parallel to Rothko, where Rothko uses his muted palette and broad strokes to convey and create an atmospheric presence Flavin uses simple scupltures created from fluorescent tubes to do the same. To walk into a room lined with different coloured fluoro tubes, casting huge, multicoloured spectrum like shadows and making already large spaces seem cavernous isn't an easy feat. I find that both Flavin and Rothko use colour and placement to draw in the viewer and allow them to create their own opinion, rather than force feed the viewer their own agendas. So the two artists fitted perfectly with silence and it was nice to see some of their work again.

Other than Rothko and Flavin the Tate also had work from such luminaries as Ron Mueck, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Mona Hatoum and Anthony Gormley on display.

I particularly enjoyed looking at Warhols screen print of the campbells soup can, it was the first time I had seen one so close and been able to really see the details and slight misalignments. Really nice work that makes a soup can fascinating to look at...not easy to do. I think that's one of the areas that modern art has to fill, it has to be interesting to look at, it doesn't necessarily need to be perfectly made as long as it holds the viewers attention.

a link to the gallery including short video that also shows the disco floor and the curators of the three separate sculpture areas can be found here

After a pretty awesome lunch with Chris and Alex it was time to head over to The Walker Gallery and get some more art in before heading home.

The Walker Gallery was mostly your traditional gallery, large intricate paintings by incredibly gifted artists, but once you've seen one you've seen them all. Maybe that makes me seem like an uneducated cretin but there is a reason why photographers like Ryan McGinley can sell their photos for gazillions of dollars and portrait photographers make peanuts in comparison. There is so little emotion on show, nothing to hold your gaze. Art needs to be compelling in some way, and in my opinion the pre-raphaelite and baroque styles on show don't really do that.  There were some very nice design based items on show though. Liverpool John Moores University had some of their brochure designs on show and they saved the day where the Walker Gallery is concerned. Simple clean design for the most part, a bit stagnant in the mid 90's from the looks of things but on the whole very enjoyable. Another saving grace for The Walker Gallery was the Bridget Riley 'Flashback' show. 

A selection of her sketch and prep work can be seen behind an inquisitive Chris Scanlon in the photo to the right. Great work with beautiful lines, nice simple concepts and really nice results. The finished works use bold bright colours on a much larger scale and really created an interesting viewing. Similar to Rothko and Flavin again in some ways, but more playful and less emotive. 

All in all a good day out and I had a great nap on the train home. Happy days

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