Tara and I had booked a trip to Paris months ago to coincide with the Easter break, little did we know how fine we’d end up cutting it. I’d finished fitting the sculpture on Friday afternoon at 4 o’clock and we flew out on Saturday morning. I haven’t seen Fionn since Christmas and was really looking forward to seeing him and having some well deserved down time. The little guilt ridden voice in my head was at pains to remind me that technically, I didn’t really have the luxury of down time, but fuck him.
I wanted to spend as much time with Fionn as possible but I had to squeeze in a quick trip to the Pompidou Centre, he’s a bit of a culture vulture but Tara can get understandably “Arted out” after a long gallery session. The featured exhibitions were a César Baldaccini retrospective, ‘Life Lines’ by Sheila Hicks and a retrospective of the South African photographer David Goldblatt. I had relatively limited time but I managed to get around all three.
I’d never seen César work in the flesh and I revelled in the brash colour, machismo and physicality of it, taking the opposition between homo faber and homo ludens to nutty heights. There were a selection of film projections, some of his ‘pours’ as spectacular happenings, surrounded by onlookers and swarmed by photographers, and other more mundane car crushing ones. The huge space was crammed to the gills with mostly sculptures: plexiglass wraps, pours, expansions, compressions, imprints and welded work, all touchable and tangible . I found myself drawn to the ‘flame-over’ technique used in some of the welded pieces, I often examine work like this in a forensic manner, unpicking the method an imagining how it was executed.
The Sheila Hicks exhibit could not be more of a contrast with it’s overwhelming female presence. Older women appear to make up at least 50% of the visitors with another 20% or so female. It’s all about the weave, the cord, the yarn, the plait, the knot, the thread, the stitch, the nap and the twist. There seems to be a chromatic path that ties pieces together and leads you through the work. I’d imagine the invigilators have their hands full, the temptation to touch and stroke is very strong and I’d imagine children and adults alike have eyed up the huge yarn balls in the corner with a mind to dive into them.
I’d never heard of Goldblatt before but his work effected me the most of all three exhibtions. He has spent over 30 years travelling around and documenting South Africa, from the inauguration of apartheid to its rise and eventual fall. The collection of photos produce a lens under which to study a particular grotesque experiment on human society.
“Blacks were not of this town. They served it, traded with it, received charity from it, and were ruled, rewarded and punished by its precepts. Some, on occasion, were its privileged guests. But all who went there did so by permit or invitation, never by right. White and Black: locked into a system of manic control and profound immorality. To draw breath there was to be complicit. That’s how it was and is no longer.”
The fitting at Sandyford last week went pretty well, a couple of small hiccups but nothing we couldn’t handle, looking forward to the unveiling session but god knows when that’ll be