Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Saatchi, Gormley, and all that
I've become slightly addicted recently to a BBC3 programme called School of Saatchi. 6 young aspiring contemporary artists compete for Saatchi's attention and some incredible prizes. The series has got me hooked, despite my general dislike for contemporary art. I'd love to make out like I'm really cultured here, but unmade beds, a shark in a tank - I get it, but just don't like it.
That said, I adore Antony Gormley's work.
He's well known for the Angel of the North, but he's done so much more than that. I went to an exhibition of his at the Hayward gallery in London a couple of years ago with my ex, who was heavily into art. I was skeptical going, but of all the exhibitions I've seen, it's the one that probably sticks in my mind the most. What appeals to me is how a lot of his work is public - surely every London resident has seen one of his statues on a rooftop at least once.
My favourite part of his 2007 exhibition at the Hayward gallery was Blind Light, a large transparent glass box filled with what can only be described as cloud, and vivid, bright white light. Visitors were invited to venture into the box, through the one opening which functions as both an entrance and exit. Inside, it was immediately apparent why those with nervous dispositions or heart conditions are not allowed to experience it - it was incredibly disorientating, scary, bizarre - and quite wonderful. With visibility so poor that you could barely see your hands in front of you, people walked around blinded by bright white light, somewhat struggling to breath as the cool white cloud seemingly engulfed each person. I wandered around for ages in wonder - it felt like I was the only person in the world and as though I was literally walking inside a cloud - I can only describe it as euphoric.
Antony Gormley is one of 30 contemporary artists displaying work in an exhibition at the Royal Academy, which runs until the end of January. Is my wonder at Gormley enough to lure me to a whole contemporary art exhibition - me, a complete contemporary art skeptic? I'm beginning to think it might well be.