Olafur Eliasson has a very unmemorable name, but even if you don't recognise the name you probably know the guy. Remember when there was a large sun peering through mist in the turbine hall at the Tate Modern? That was him.
Anyway he is back at the Tate Modern until 5th January 2020. I have been twice. The first time I went it was a Sunday near the start of the exhibition and it was incredibly crowded. I've never seen an art show so busy. Many of the visitors were families. I got half way round then retreated. I returned recently on a cold Tuesday. It was substantially calmer. The first room is a large selection of his concept models. It is always interesting to see somebody's working and on a smaller scale of the work you then experience. Sadly the exhibition has now finished so you will have to take my word for it.
It took me a while to figure out what the show was. It's a fair ground ride. A high spec, colourful interesting almost spiritual fair ground ride, complete with misty tunnel, hall of mirrors, dark room and light effects, such as the one above where you are back lit and your shadow displayed in a number of different colours. But we are leaping ahead.
It is worth while having a careful look around. The first room contains a very impressive tactile wall of moss like substance covering all of one wall. On the floor are 4 different sized, both in length and width, tanks full of water with wave machines. They generate waves of different frequency and it is fun watching them join and destroy each other. These easily distract you and it is easy to miss for example the rain machine dripping onto one of the windows.
Into the next room you see a convex mirror displaying an upside down distorted view of the room you have just left. And this is what I mean about it being a high spec fairground. You then have to queue to go down an long misty tunnel. You can barely see more than about and arms length in front of you and different coloured lights means the mist changes from orange to white and yellow as you gently parade down it. I understand that you are legally allowed to murder anyone who has stopped to take a selfie while in the tunnel (there were lots, there are less now). You emerge slightly baffled to find a large sci-fi esc cylinder, which you can walk down inside of. It is bedecked with mirrors with reflect and distort you.
The next room has a series of light displays and then also the light effect you can see at the top of your blog which splits your shadow into a number of different colours.
My favourite thing in the whole show though was in a very dark room. Sudden flashes of light reveal an every changing sculpture on top of a plinth. It shifts from looking like a pac-man ghost, to a flattened kraken and other weird shapes. It is in fact the thing pictured above. It is a fountain. And the flashes of light catch it in different shapes and imprint it onto your brain. I thought this was excellent and stayed there for quite a while enjoying it all.
The final room contained a very pretentious and wordy wall taking the alphabet and exploring environmental themes. A large round table contains a construction set, hundreds and hundreds of different pieces that you can assemble and possibly if you were minded create the shape like the above. That was great fun. The exhibition continues outside where the ball like device is. There was a display I have seen before where this yellow polarising light, here set up in a hall way and in the lifts that makes everything appear black and white.
It was a great show. I enjoyed it.
There is a show at the British Museum right now called Inspired by the East, the Influence of Islamic Art. It is the kind of show that British Museum does really well, an overview of something from history, or art, and giving you the context of how it was produced and what effect it has. You get the obvious direct influences, high Victorian western images of the Arabic world like the above, but also other inspired pieces such as the tiles of one of my favourite artists William De Morgan.
One example I really did like was this water colour of a woman in veil and head-dress (above right). It is very striking composition, with that pyramid of red. I like her pose as well and the general composition reminds me a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic character. I really like when you find in historic art, images that feel very contemporary. I find myself wondering about the person depicted.
Got to have Islamic militaria. You get two helmets and a sword. I really like the helmets, both of them inscribed with intricate patters on them. The shapes of the helmets really appeal to me but what grabbed my attention but was frustratingly unexplained was the little chimney shape on the above left helmet. What the hell is that for? Presumably for holding some kind of plume. In addition very interesting to see something different. That hanging decorative item is in fact a begging bowl. It is made of Coco -da -mer , a kind of nut. Don't google it, there is a sex shop of the same name. Again the wonderful islamic writing and designs inscribed around the outside. I always like seeing things like this. To counterpoint this, in a display just near it were Western and modern pottery and table ware that uses these designs and element. The glassware was particularly attractive.
The Al-Hambra has long been on my list of places to visit and this re-kindled my desire. I want to wander through those tiled halls. It directly inspired Lord Leighton who had part of his house built to reflect its grandeur. You can see it, its call Leighton House, in Kensington High Street and is well worth a visit. So underneath its inspiration are designs for the room and the detail you can see in said room.
There was one actual carpet (above) and it is beautiful. A rich red with intricate detail of people, bopping around in various ways. It is difficult to imagine this being walked on, or even on the floor so it maybe that it was hung on a wall. I spent some time peering through its finely wrought details.
One of the thing that occurred to me while wandering round this show is there were lots of depictions of men prayer or otherwise engaging in acts of faith, but I never seen one of an Islamic woman, then I rounded the corner and saw that someone else had realised this, over 150 years ago.
Above left is the painting in question. The artist in question is called Osman Hamdi Bay who was described as the most Parisian of Ottomans and the most Ottomans of Parisians. A strange accolade but there you go. The painting itself is superb. The colour contrast is excellent, the way the woman pops out of the background. Then the intricacy of the background, the lattice over the window, the turquoise of the tiles and the mother of pearl on the table. Its lovely and I think Bay is a new favourite of mine.
There are also some excellent modern takes on some of the classics. There is the woman above right which references a nude but instead she is covered in newspaper. Sadly I have failed to note either her name or the name of the painting but it is a very striking image and I liked it very much. Similarly there is a classic etching called the Harem of the Seigneur. The last exhibit in the show was a projected version of that picture with moving figures, castigating and criticising the original. It was done very well I though.
A show worth seeing and I really enjoyed it.
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