Monday, 30 January 2012

Lygia Pape: Magnetized Space

Verdict: Worth a look
Where: Serpentine gallery, Hyde Park
When: 7 December 201119 February 2012

The Serpentine gallery is located in the middle of Hyde Park next to the Serpentine (hence the name), the perfect idyll setting for an art gallery, though not the easiest to get to.

It’s well known for hosting less recognised artists and its current exhibition is no exception.  The late Lygia Pape was a Brazilian artist and this retrospective displays works spanning her career from the 1950s through to the 2000s.  She experimented with mixed media and ‘mixed’ sums up my view of the exhibition.

The first gallery is dedicated to her videos that aim to highlight the link between consumerism and our primal instincts.  The most prominent video with the double entendre title of ‘eat me’ shows close-ups of mouths eating foods and she has tried to hint at the mouth’s eroticism by overlaying a soundtrack that could have been lifted from a 1970s porn movie.  But you can’t help wondering if this would work without the music, and how this all seems to be an artificial construct that pushes, rather than guides, the viewer to an interpretation – we get enough of that in movies, we don’t need it in the art world!

Just as you think this may have been a wasted trip, you step into a darkened room where threads have been laid between the floor and the ceiling that glimmer in the overhead spotlights.  They possess an ethereal feel and shimmer as you walk around them, yet you feel as if the delicate web could easily entangle you if you stepped into it.  This is so different from the other artworks that you wonder whether this could be the same artist.

Once again you’re brought back to earth with her drawings that are so derivative of Mondrian and Matisse that there seems to be no progression on display, in fact one piece looks like a direct copy of Mondrian’s work.

But there’s one Matisse-inspired work that is joyous to behold – ‘book of time’.  This is a wall of small brightly coloured installations that look like pixelated video game characters from the Atari days.  You could enjoy exploring them for a good thirty minutes

All in all, a veritable mixed bag but there are two standout pieces (both pictured here) that are worth the trip alone.

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