Archive for Tate Modern

Ai Weiwei – Seeds of change?

Posted in ART, ART VIDEOS, exhibitions with tags , , , on October 19, 2010 by echostains


Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957 Beijing) is the latest artist to exhibit in the gigantic space of the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern gallery London. The commission, the latest in the Unilever series  called ‘Sunflower Seeds’ has only been running  a few days, yet it has already experienced some problems.

an aerial view of the sunflower installation

A 100 million seeds cover 1000 meters of the Turbine hall.  The seeds, made individually,  are porcelain, painted with black slip and then fired, and the matte surface left unglazed (whilst unusual for porcelain, it does – but make the seeds look realistic though the finish is more like Stoneware – which uses slip without glaze).  

other 'sunflowers'

The Chinese invented ‘porcelain’ and  whole villages at a time would contribute in supplying porcelain to the imperial courts.  The  artist wanted to highlight the cultural connection.  This has presented the artist with a problem though: to glaze and not only lose authenticity – but make the seeds slippery and dangerous to walk on – or leave unglazed and risk a health hazard to the lungs because unfortunately, a few days into the exhibition, the public had to be prevented from walking on or handling the seeds as the dust created from friction and handling posed this health hazard.  the installation is now protected by a rope.

 The cultural revolution of 1966 – 1976 China, saw people stripped of their individuality.  Posters of Mao depicted as the sun and the masses as sunflowers leaning towards him, abounded.  Sunflower seeds, a common snack for the Chinese became a symbol of community, pleasure and reassurance in those dark times.  The juxtaposing of mass production and traditional craftsmanship invite us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’  stamp – one of the worlds most recognisable labels.

Beijing National Stadium

Ai Weiwei is a fascinating artist whose art (a collaboration with architects in this case) includes the controversial Olympic Stadium in China (also known as ‘Birds Nest: read about it here) and ‘Remembering’ 2009 for the Haus der Kunst’s façade in Germany.  This installation consisted of 9,000 backpacks (especially made), which stand as a commemorative symbol for the children who died in the earthquake in Sichuan. 

Ai Weiwei 'So sorry'

A lot  the children’ backpacks were found under collapsed schools and these specially constructed ones in five colours spell out the poignant words  ‘She lived happily for seven years in this world’ in Chinese characters on the facade.

Thereis more to be read about this fascinating artist here and here

Ai Weiwei blog and backpack image from here, Soft Ground image and info here
More about this installation here
Sunflower Seeds images from here
Made in China definition here
China Olympic Stadium image from here
The exhibition runs Monday 11 October 2010 – Monday 2 May 2011

Sunflower poster from Here

Weaver of webs Louise Borgeois

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, SCULPTURE with tags , , , on June 2, 2010 by echostains

Last week I wrote about French-born American Abstract expressionist sculptor Louise Bourgeois and featured her Mamam in my post about the Tate Modern.   She is very well-known for her gigantic spiders:_

The Spider is an ode to my mother,” Louise Bourgeois once said. “She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver… Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences… spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.”

louise_bourgeois eye to eye 1970

 Sadly, Bourgeois died at the age of 98 on Monday. I find it amazing that this tiny woman was so prolific and still working at nearly 100 years of age!  She was born in Paris in 1911 to tapestry restorers and when she later moved to New York, she found the art scene was totally dominated by men.  Her husband was critic Robert Goldwater.


Hers was a passionate personality, she was filled with darkness, outrage and anger over her father’s affair with her governess.  She translated these emotions into her art.  Bourgeois became famous and popular when she was in her 70’s when she had her first major exhibition.

Her work is not to everyone’s taste, and some have found it disturbing, but I find it dark interesting with many layers.  Through her work she translates childhood trauma and sexuality.   Her art is always linked with the past and very emotional.   In this short film she says that her emotions are inappropriate to her size – that they are her ‘demons’.  Her demons have turned out to be her lifetimes work and she has made a major contribution to sculpture as a media.

Arch of hysteria

 There is a lovely obituary in the Telegraph

There is a lovely article about her here and many videos about her work on YouTube

Maman image from here, Louise Bourgeois pic from here arch of hysteria here

Happy 10th Birthday Tate Modern!

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY, exhibitions, LONDON (JAUNTS) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by echostains

Tate Modern from the riverside

The month of May is nearly over and I cannot let it pass without wishing Tate Modern a Happy 10th Birthday.  I have been to the Tate Modern many times and seen quite a few exhibitions.  The Tate Modern galleries are built  in the space of Bankside Power station which closed in 1981 and the building was converted by Herzog and de Meuron: the contractors were Carillion.  It is a National Museum of International art.

Louise Bourgeois 'Maman'

In 2001 I remember seeing Maman the  gigantic spider of then 89-year-old French-born sculptress Louise Bourgeois.   The turbine hall is a colossal space  (five storeys tall with 3,400 square metres of floorspace).  the spider 30 ft high and made of blackened stainless steel  carried 26 white marble eggs underneath her belly.  She towered over people who gazed up in awe.  Another exhibition I saw at the Tate was Katherina Fritsch (b. 1956 Germany) whose sculptures reflect fairytales and myths. I wrote a post about this exhibition here.  2001 was the year I saw the Turner Prize at Tate Britain – won by Martin Creed with his famous light  which turned on and off…… 

In 2002 Anish Kapoor’s  (b. India 1954) Marsyas was the star of the Turbine Hall.  150 meters long and 10 storeys high, this sculptural form was inspired by Titian’s 1576 painting ‘The Flaying of Marsyas’.  The Greek myth tells the tale of  Marsyas, a satyr who was flayed alive by the God Apollo because he played the flute better than the God.  This sculpture ran round the Turbine Hall. 


 I wondered what would happen if someone blew through this gigantic trumpet!

Marsyas by Anish Kapoor

I was also fortunate to see the Matisse Picasso exhibition that year which I greatly enjoyed.  The way the work was juxtaposed showed the playful rivalry between the pair, each one spurred on by the other to come up with new work, new visions.  I believe Picasso needed this and at the time Matisse was the one who could give him a run for his money.  I still have a souvenir cup of that exhibition and woe betide anyone who breaks it:)

flowing hair matisse and acrobat by picasso

In 2003 I saw an exhibition by sculptor Eva Hesse  (b 1936 – 1970 Germany) exhibition at the Tate Modern.  This artist worked with string, resin and latex in her sculptures. 

Eva Hesse

 I later incorporated  into my paintings.  Apart from this fact and the feeling that the work looked stranded in its environment, I can’t remember too much about it.

Among other exhibitions the Hogarth (2007) one really stands out.  I really like Paula Rego’s transcription of Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode where the artist carries on the story of the ill-fated marriage in contemporary times.  I also chose Rego’s Snow White and her Stepmother to transcribe (see Transcription in my categories).  William Hogarth’s narrative painting fascinates me and I was very well versed in the story of the series Marriage a la Mode.  but I was amazed at just how small these paintings actually are! The details are quite astounding considering the scale of these paintings.

marriage a la mode the marriage settlement

Francis Bacon 2008 was an exhibition very much looked forward to by me.  He is a  favorite artist of mine.  We saw work there we had never seen before: works from private collections leased especially for the retrospective.  As usual the raw power of the paint rippled through the room giving the paintings a brooding presence.

Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X 1953 Bacon

 Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko had an exhibition in 2009.  We didn’t go.  A lot of people really vibrate to Rothko, but I find him very heavy and depressing.   I would have liked to have gone to Chris Offili’s exhibition this year, but we just didn’t have time.  In between Tate modern there are always other exhibitions on at Tate Britain, The Royal Academy, The National Gallery and the Barbican. 

Other important exhibitions I have been to in London include:-

Encounters 2000 National Gallery,

Frank Auerbach retrospective, The Royal Academy 2001,

 Lucien Freud retrospective,Tate Britain 2002, 

Desire unbound surrealism, Tate Modern 2002, 

  Andy Warhol retrospective, Tate Modern 2002, 

  Transition, 2002 Barbican Gallery,

  images from here here and here

Don’t forget my Blogspotlight interview here with artistatexit0

London WILL belong to me!

Posted in LONDON (JAUNTS) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2008 by echostains

Bacon Triptych

Bacon Triptych

So excited to be going to London for a few days!  Not been for about 18 months so it will be good.  We’ll be seeing the Francis Bacon Exhibition at the Tate Britain so I will make some notes. 





Pope painting

Pope painting


Self Portrait

Self Portrait






 Also going to Shepherds Bush Empire to see the Electric Six.  Most people have only heard ‘Gay Bar’ and ‘High Voltage’, but they are far far better than those hits.  Their music is evolving and constantly changing all the time.

'Flashy' album cover Electric Six

'Flashy' album cover Electric Six