Sunday, 27 November 2011

We visited the BALTIC in Gateshead, Newcastle - the current exhibition highlights the Turner Prize Nominees for 2011. I've blogged previously about Sarah Lowndes great discussion about the amount of Scottish artists nominated/winners of the Turner Prize but it was lovely to be able to see the work in the flesh.

The stand out piece for me was Carla Black's installation.

Hilary Llyod
I definitly found her first video piece very comical, it was a bit like buildings playing jack in the box with the viewer. She combines still and moving images, sound and the three dimensional forms of AV playback equipment to portray the urban environment.

Mike Kelley and Michael Smith.
Not in the Turner Prize but pretty jaw dropping, there was a huge immersive installation on the top floor, "...a collaborative installation between renowned American artists Mike Kelley and Michael Smith. A Voyage of Growth and Discovery sees the man-child Baby IKKI, a character developed by Smith for over thirty years, navigate the infamous Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert. Alone in his journey amongst thousands of revellers, IKKI negotiates the primal elements of fire, water, earth and wind. A six-channel video installation replaying IKKI’s 'voyage' is enveloped by a fantasy environment evoking that of the festival. At its centre stands a 30ft incarnation of IKKI himself." Discussed by the gallery.

Created to look like a child's playground (from a nightmare), the build up and clashing of sound, moving video, dominating sculpture/statue and eery lighting, it was very uncomfortable and unsettling, especially the burnt out van with a sculptured throne of old teddies and toys, which was the most effective.

George Shaw

Previously shown in the GOMA as part of the British Art Show (2011). He paints hyper-realistic landscape portraits of desolate areas from his hometown. They interviewed Shaw and broadcasted it in the cafe and I thought he was a very interesting guy with a very honest approach to his work, he said that he, "...wanted to make art that my mum could be able to discuss with my art tutor," and I admire that rejection of eliticism assosiated with contemporary art.
However, I do not feel the work is not successfu and I think partly this lies with the fact he is quite vague about his intentions. One aspect that is highlighted is that he uses modelling paint and he hasn't really been probed on this issue, however it is extensively emphasised as significant to the work. I feel like he is using non-traditional materials to create very traditional oil paintings - I don't think this subverts the historic tradition assosiated with either.
Another issue was the fact that they weren't hyper-realistic, again this made it feel very traditional, like a piece of art you could buy in any commericial gallery. It could be a scale issue as his paintings dominated GOMA at the British Art Show, purely in terms of size and they were immersive.
As the face of contemporary painting (and the only painter nominated for the Turner Prize) it's a little bit disconcerting.

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