Monday, 7 May 2012

Spots, pills and formaldehyde

Whenever I come to London, I try to fit in a few exhibitions over my three week's stay. I have managed to see quite an eclectic mix this time round, with the British Design exhibition at the V & A, and the Zoffany exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. On sunday, I was lucky enough to see three great exhibitions under one roof at the Tate Modern, one of my favourite galleries.

The main exhibition was that of Damien Hirst, which covers 24 years worth of his work from the endless multi-colour spot paintings, to the animals suspended in formaldehyde. Many of his pieces could be seen as morbid and hard-hitting, yet they are images that have become almost too well-known to offend nowadays. It was interesting seeing his early pieces, many of which I hadn't seen before. My favourites were the butterfly pieces which create beautiful kaleidoscopic designs out of butterfly wings.

The two other exhibitions were by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and the Italian artist Alighiero Boetti. Yayoi Kusama is well known for her repeating dot patterns which I had seen before, but also on show were a wide selection of paintings, sculpture, drawing and film which I hadn't seen and showed a whole other side to her art.

Alighiero Boetti was one of the most influential Italian artists of the twentieth century and used a wide variety of media to create his art, from industrial materials to postage stamps, biro pens and embroidery. My favourite pieces were the embroidered ones, where maps of the world were painstakingly created, but I was also intrigued by the biro pieces. These consisted of large sheets of paper that took weeks to cover in endless lines of biro so that the whole sheet was covered. The ink changes colour as each pen runs out and is renewed, and it begins to take on the appearance of indigo-dyed, embroidered fabric from a  distance.

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