Sunday, 15 February 2009

Whitworth Gallery Exhibition

We went to have a look around the Whitworth on Friday.

There is quite a varied array of material on display at the monent.
In the first area we can find delicate drawing work by Tracy Emin and some etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranisi as well as various examples of textile work and the exhibit on wallpaper; Putting on The Glitz.

Of note to any illustrators reading this is the display of the Walter Crane Archive. A kind of illustrative format largely employed in the so called Golden Age of illustration. His work was employed for everything from book covers and periodicals, to vases and fabrics of various description. A large part of this exhibition though covers work centered around his support for the workers movement.

The majority of our time however was spent engaging with the Subversive Spaces exhibition featuring there at the moment. A collection of art focussing on the Surreal.
Herein we can find work by the likes of Salvador Dali, Max Ernst mixed with much more contemporary work such as Markus Schiwald's photography.
The themes of the surrealists are approached with notions of anxiety, unease and claustrophobia.

There is a large display of anthropomorphic furniture which I dont want to say too much about incase anybody reading this wants to go and see the exhinition . Suffice to say that these pieces follow on from some of Dali and Giorgio De Chirico's work whereby pieces of furniture replace or obscure parts (or all) of the human form.
Some of De Chirico's most famous work can be seen at the exhibition as well as Magritte, an inviting proposal for anyone at all interested in art.

The work follows on chronologically for the most part and pieces of video and photography begin to take up the majority of space within the exhibition.
Themes surrounding the role of women within society are largely prominent together with the associated attacks on faschism, religion and other institutional damage. Uneasy subjects such as rape and child abuse it seems, go hand in hand with the notion of the surreal and are brought to the fore in a few pieces and this notion available to explore in some of the supporting work and texts within the exhibition.
Moving forwards we see some evidence of Neoplasticism though the remainder of the exhibition with work from Yves Tanguy amongst others. We can also see the late surrealists, Dorothea Tanning's, Eine Kliene Nachtmusic, is on display here.

Following the theme of the surreal the notion of the strange is employed to lend a weight towards the 1930's photography shown towards the end of the exhibition. linked with poetry by Andre Breton, the images are lent a romantiscism and sense of loss and estrangement and provided (for me at least) one of the most moving parts of the exhibition.

Moving on towards more contemporary work then is the evidence of the change towards photorealism and the links with the emotive value of painting as a medium in George Shaw's works The Slide, and The Swing.

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