Tuesday, June 24, 2008

V&A update

Yesterday I popped into the V&A’s Blood on Paper exhibition again – it ends this weekend. It’s quite terrific, on a subject I would have thought potentially could be quite dull:
“This exhibition examines what happens when major artists of today and the recent past consider the meaning of books.

Books do more than transmit texts and images. They proclaim authority, permanence or ‘culture’. They give out messages as we approach them, and as we open or hold them. Their physical presence alone has the power to stimulate memories, to reveal a particular universe of thought or to provoke a dialogue.”
The exhibition is a work of art in itself – lighting, projection, space and wall colour are used to amazing effect but never overwhelming the artworks on display, which are clearly and informatively laid out. Most are traditional artist’s limited edition books, but the likes of Anselm Kiefer, Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst have created quite monumental, sculptural presences, and the Estate of Francis Bacon has produced a limited-edition facsimile of a suitcase containing items from the deceased artist’s studio. It’s a completely absorbing, fascinating show and well worth catching.

Also beautifully designed and mounted, China Design Now gives a handy introduction to the design work emanating from the rapidly developing new China. The confidence and aesthetic daring of China’s patrons are well attested by the spectacular architectural commissions in Beijing for the up-coming Olympics; however a quiet little building “Father’s House” by Ma Quinyun was quite outstanding in its happy assimilation of traditional and international modernist styles and its use of local river-washed pebbles.

Graphically, I enjoyed Lam Hung’s “Peace of Mind” poster which portrayed the Chinese ‘xin’ character in pop-art dots which only coalesced at a certain viewing distance from the poster. I would have loved to buy a copy in the shop; however they didn’t have any.

They did have t-shirts marked down to £10 – however, at the till I was told the shirt I had chosen wasn’t marked down, even though the sign was on top of it. Very naughty of the V&A to pull this hoariest of old retail tricks.

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