Monday, 4 February 2013

Tracing the Century, Tate Liverpool

I seem to be making a habit of making two trips to exhibitions, no bad thing really as it always gives the chance to revaluate the exhibitions. Often a second trip is necessary if a particular work you’re interested in isn’t up and running. As Anthony McCall’s piece in Tracing the Century wasn’t this makes Tate’s Tracing the Century one of those exhibitions, though that maybe I left my last visit till the last minute.

Trying to stretch my memory back to pre-Christmas I recall myself to be pleased by the exhibit. I get the sense of the exhibition as a reminder of the role of drawing, a refresher of the importance drawing. Drawing being one of those mediums whose ubiquity belies its power and commutative qualities. Consider that drawing is maybe, one the first  creative acts we undertake its one of the gateway drugs into the wider world of arts. On my first visit I slip into ideas of gestural marks, of a sense of a familiar movement across paper.

Things change on my second visit McCall’s piece is working. If I’m honest this piece is the main drive behind wanting to see this exhibition. It being one of those pieces of art that where so evocative when discussed during those long gone student days. Sentiment aside how do I react? Well stepping inside the room which houses the piece my eyes begin to adjust and I begin to adjust. Walking around the space my reaction to the curved lined being shot onto the wall by the projector on the other side of the room. I can see this object that isn’t an object, a thing which a whole and yet a combination of separate parts.  This is pure concept everything dependent on my perception and my, relative position, I move to being observer to part of the cone of light. It’s also very poetic, a beguiling, and illusory piece.

Stepping outside of the installation I began to revaluate the rest of the exhibition. The drawings become representations of darkness and light, they become variations of mass. I make an observation that I didn’t make on my first visit, that drawing are all interpretations of perception. Conversions of three dimensional space filtered through the perceptions and concerns of the artists. The shadows casted by the sculptures become solid and extend their physicality. I imagine that this is somehow reflective of the origins of the sculptures themselves, the line forming in the mind is marked across paper where they become solid and are able to cast shadows. It seems somehow cyclical.

Any criticisms? Well maybe the exhibition feels familiar and I would of liked to seen Tactia Dean’s sea drawings or Turner nominee’s Paul Noble’s drawings. There are still some surprises Andy Wharol’s drawing of mechanical delicacy is an example. On the whole the exhibition seems to part of a current curatorial trend to look at the fundamentals of art, exhibition such as Drawing Sculpture at Leeds Art Galley or Paper Cuts at Manchester. An exhibition like this provides us (we creative types I guess) with a reminder of how are interest in art began and why we continue to be involved.


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