Sunday, 18 March 2012


Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Magpie Tales
Last night I spent a couple of hours dashing about the Tate Modern with a modern art aficionado. It was all energy and flux, transformative matter and the complex relationship of humankind to the School of Things. The work of Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese conceptual artist, was on display - her retrospective exhibition was a visual kaleidoscope of infinity rooms and thrashing limbs and hallucinations made interactive - the security alarms were constantly sounding because children were unable to resist touching; not just children, an unabashed adult too - no, it wasn't me, not this time, anyway!
IMG_0240 Infinity Dots Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama at The Mattress Factory
I can understand the relevance of found beauty in pieces of wood, metal, Lucio Fontana's single clean slash of a canvas,
Do Ho Suh's red fabric staircase,
Richard Long's circles of pebbles and stones...
and Damien Hirst's butterflies or 'Sympathy in White Major - Absolution II'...
but then, with seconds to spare, as the armed watchmen were descending on us (armed with walkie-talkies), we suddenly came upon Monet. And it was all light and simplicity.
Give me trees and water lilies, I thought, give me the scent of oils and a paintbrush. Give me a garden and give me light. I'll add the stars and moon, later, when it darkens. Breath of Monet aside, the Tate Modern seemed to me to be filled with a kind of emptiness, an alienating distance, made more poignant by the DO NOT TOUCH alarms and signs. How to be touched without touching? It's a mystery. Unless, of course, you break the rules.


Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

I love the Tate...they offer their patrons a diversity of challenging exhibits and this sure looks inviting to me. Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

RNSANE said...

I, myself, am not a fan of modern or abstract art. It makes me schizophrenic. I much prefer the impressionists, preferring to actually recognize what is in paintings and to have my spirits lifted by the lovely garden scenes.

How are you, dear Shaista. I am ending a wonderful four month sojourn in India, a lifelong dream for this 67-year-old gal. I am so sad to be heading home in a couple of weeks and hope I can return as soon as I've been out of the country the required two months.

Oya's Daughter said...

I have been pondering lately the idea of making art which would encourage people to touch it rather than penalise them for it. Art seems to require you to be able to see, but what about people who can't? It's an idea I play with both as an artist and as a mother of a child on the ASD spectrum...and your writing of security alarms going off as kids were interacting with art got me thinking about it again.

Cheers for the reminder...I've got thinking and planning to do!

Kristen Haskell said...

Tactile, I am too. Sometimes it is hard to resist.

Shaista said...

Mary Helen - perhaps it is time to take in some of London's sights? Make a special trip :)

Shaista said...

Carmen - it's interesting you should mention schizophrenia because Yayoi Kusama checked herself into a hospital a few decades ago, she actually sectioned herself, and has continued to produce art from within the hospital which she transformed into a studio space!
It is incredible that you've been in India for four months - am thoroughly enjoying catching up with your adventures. Return soon!

Shaista said...

Oya - That's exactly what I was thinking - my father can't see and so I too am conscious about this new form of art which could be amazing if we were able to interact with it - but exhibited work has always been off limits. Remember Tracy Emin's bed? She was horrified when some boys jumped all over it - she felt violated.

Tess Kincaid said...

Lovely lovely art...thank you...

Oya's Daughter said...

I always thought Tracy Emin is just pretentious. Sure, put a bed out there with stains in but gasp in terror when someone jumps on it? As they say in the US, "Girl, PLEASE."

I'm still pondering. I would have to get some grand funding, pitch it big, do some research....planning, planning how I can make it happen.

Kutamun said...

Hey Shasta, very creative reaction , a diverse cauldron to be sure!

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Tate Modern is (to me) indeed filled with emptiness - its only content being that of the shallowness of modern art where so called artists exhibit their ego and nothing but.

Give me the work of the artist who sees the beauty of the world and not those who pretend to have vision.

Anna :o]

ds said...

Thank you for the introduction to Tate Modern. I like the Hirst, the stones, and the slash (which could be a mouth). But the Monet? Ahhh...

Your reactions are similar to those a friend and I had a couple of months back, when we visited the Guggenheim in New York. The chief exhibit was a Korean master who, with one stroke of an eight-inch wide paintbrush managed to incorporate every color of the spectrum into grey. That was magical. Some of the rest seemed simply weird. When we strolled down to the permanent collection and confronted van Gogh, Manet, even Kandinsky, we said Ahhhh...

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