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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Seeing Language @ UCSD art gallery

In the gallery, before the talk

Art Gallery, Mandeville Center, UCSD (University of California San Diego). Exhibition “In the Beginning”.
With Liz Kotz, art historian; Kim McConnel, painter, teacher at UCSD, and Stephen Hepworth, curator of the exhibition.

This talk examines how language as a visual medium has been and continues to be interpreted within the gallery space as reflected in the current exhibition at the University Art Gallery.

I could see the exhibition one more time before the talk started. There were around thirty people there, mostly students. We walked around and stopped in front of certain pieces during the talk.

In introduction, Stephen Hepworth said he wanted a very generous show, a visual show. He talked about “Another World is Possible”, the piece by Mark Titchner. “Another world is possible” is a slogan from World Social Forum. This is the slogan of the year. Titchner is very interested in slogans. He reworks them on the computer. His vision is futuristic and retro at the same time. Liz Kotz talks about the 60s and the 70s: in the conceptual work there was a text-image practice. The words came in from the world of music. John Cage started to use language by the late 50s. At the time lots of artists were using text in their works.

In the 60s, artists had no rules; they were intensely collaborating with each other: movie makers, writers, painters…

Stephen Hepworth talks about the comeback of a very visual art. Artists work with their computer a lot but end to paint on canvas. They come to that culture of media as much as they come to art history. They are moving away from technology and coming back to something more handmade.

I completely relay to that because I use the computer all the time when I am transforming my photos and then framing the images, layering them, trying colors. But there is a pleasure to transfer the image from the computer to the canvas. And even if I work in parallel images which are meant to be printed, I really like to think an image as more than a print.

Stephen Hepworth talks about Peter Davis's work: it encourages you to read, you try to find a way but ultimately you cannot follow what you are reading because your eyes are bouncing. The work is interesting because when you see it you know that it took a huge amount of time to make. On the opposite wall, the work by Bob and Roberta Smith (Bob and Roberta Smith is the pseudonym of British artist Patrick Brill), on the contrary, is done quickly. Smith who has crafted a very eccentric persona, refers to Agitprop in his practice. He finds the timber in dumpsters; he uses a very cheap paint. His work contrasts also nicely with Monique Prieto’s, in the same room.

Stephen Hepworth talking about Fiona Banner's work

About Fiona Banner’s work, Liz Kotz says she does not understand the frame – why is it so massive? Kim McConnel finds that the drawing of the figure would be actually much more economical. The piece is the description of a figure but there is no image per se. There is a background text which takes the whole space and a foreground sentence on top of it, with much bigger letters. Liz Kotz says she is not sure she is interested by the foreground as much as she is interested by the background. And Kim McConnel agrees that the piece is overstated and shows on the opposite wall a piece which he likes because it is understated. It has his roots in Baldessari’s work but has its own personality.

They talk about more works, especially in the last - and small - room where they considered three works at the same time: Dominic McGill’s pencil drawing “Pick up the gun”, Tamari Demaree’s little suspended flags “I felt your lips” and Fernando Pintado’s Conte and watercolor on paper pinned on the wall. They talk about their obsessive engagement. They see a direct reference to Ellsworth Kelly in Tamari’s work and multiple references to the 60s in the three works.

It was really dark when I went outside and I was very absorbed by the talk. I did not remember exactly where my car was parked and I got lost… I walked around. At a certain point there was a kind of a small flea market. Also some students were selling hot food they had prepared, each of them sitting behind a little folding table with a camping stove, a cooking pot and some foam bowls and plastic spoons. I finally asked for some help because I could remember the name of a building close to where I parked… Finally, after I walked through darks woods and barely lighted paths, I found my car.

UCSD is a huge campus and parking there is a nightmare but I am very happy about the evening!


Mélanie said...

I'm a friend of Fredo ( Frederique Chastel) and she has just told me about your blog.
I will pass by everyday .
I love art, YOUR ART ( few months ago, she gave me you website's address)....and blogging. I will make a link to your blog ...if you don't mind

Michele Guieu said...

Thank you and welcome! Bienvenue! J'espere que Fredo visite ce blog et qu'elle l'aime autant que vous!
No problem for the link, it is great.
I love doing this blog and I think it is a good complement to my artwork.

Marina said...

Hi!!! Please note that Fernando Pintado's official website is now up and running. would you be so kind as to change the link in your article?? thanks a bunch.

Michele Guieu said...

Hi! Please give me the new link and I will change it, thank you!

Marina said...

of course

it's not quite finished yet - we still have to set up the image gallery - but it's coming along fine. thanks a lot, Michele.

Michele Guieu said...

I am looking forward to see the image gallery. Fernando's site looks great!

Marina said...

hi michele! feel free to check out fernando's gallery now. i already uploaded the new stuff 2006 - 2008 but i still have more work to do...