Summer Task: Critical Review

In some Art Exhibitions, the use of space can make pieces of work stand out well or just make it clump together to seem unappealing. During the summer I went to two different exhibitions that used space in different ways.

Firstly, the artist Xavier Mascaró showcasts his experiment with traditional casting techniques in order to show not only the symbolism and iconography of boats, but also various femininely figures in working jobs.
When walking into the first room, you instantly see how the space makes you realize the scale and craftsmanship of these ships; each individual one is in its own tiny space which highlights each individual part. But as a group, it looks like a comrade of ships going towards some destination. What helps out as well is the soft lighting that casts a very delicate shadow on the grounds which adds the aspect of size towards the ships. However I feel like there was too many ships in that one room meant I wasn’t able to get too close up to them to see every tiny detail in the ships; although it didn’t detract from the whole experience, it was a shame.
What was interesting is that Xavier called this project of the ships “Departed” as they are based on the long lost shipwrecks. So in a way with them being bunched up together then makes sense as in the sea, the current would probably move the ships close together (depending where they are) so them being close begins to make sense, whilst adding a slight haunting feel.
When you move along into the other rooms, you see that the whole exhibition follows the same theme of having a few statues in one area, with direct soft lighting over the heads to cast them in this shadow. This time the statues were individual with enough space in which that you get up close to them to look at all the detail used in the craftsmanship.

The other exhibition I went to was Louise Bourgeois’ Works on Paper; these were etchings made during the last years of her life, similar to Piscasso’s Cut Outs work (also done during his last year). These pieces of works were typical of her other drawings; showing abstract elements of various designs. Apparently the titles of these works are quite oblique in order to possibly suggest some inner turmoil.
With these being delicate (and old) drawings, these have been placed into glass cases on simple white card to highlight the ink.
She had practiced this lithography early in her career, practicing in New York in 1938, before taking up sculpture for a while. She returned to it later on in her career in which she looked at some of the earlier themes in her work as inspiration for her work.
Unlike Xavier’s work, everything was placed up onto the wall so that there was enough space to walk around the rooms. However this meant that it was hard for you to take your time with the drawings as you would members of the public go up close, leaving it impossible to appreciate the drawings.
Another shame is that with Bourgeois being so famous for her installations, we had nothing to compare or visualise these themes she got for these drawings. And that does take away from these drawings; these is nothing too special about them at all, nothing that makes the jump out.
Yes as pieces of art they are good, but nothing compared to works of others artists during her time, such as Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell.

So two different exhibitions, two of different quality. I would definitely advise seeing Xavier’s work at the Saatchi if you can as it is a sight to see. Bourgeois’ work is good as well, just be prepped for it to not take you’re breath away.


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