Friday, January 28, 2011

GSK Contemporary 2011

Aware Art Fashion Identity is the GSK Contemporary exhibition showing at the Royal Academy of Arts until 30th January 2011. I went to see it last Sunday and it was quite interesting but there were a couple of odd display decisions. The worst element of the exhibition was without doubt the decision to place Grayson Perry's Artist's Robe in an alcove on the stairs. It looked good there, I understood the impulse, I just don't see why it wasn't defeated by logic. You couldn't walk around the garment, felt that you couldn't linger beside it, couldn't take time to look at the cloth properly. I stopped to look at it and felt psychologically hurried because I was standing on the stairs and there was no other artwork in view. Later on in the exhibition an Alexander McQueen garment was given so much space that 5 people could walk around it standing next to each other which felt oddly insulting to Perry's work. The choice of display for the robe befitted a grand house opened to the public by the National Trust but it wasn't a great choice for a textile exhibition.

In spite of that criticism the content of the exhibition, particularly the first room was interesting. Claudia Losi's jackets made from the cloth whale were extremely interesting. Helen Storey's Say Goodbye was a really intriguing concept, the Roma blankets that had been made into coats (Sewing Together) by Maria Papadimitriou can be viewed at Centre for the Aesthetic Revolution and were a fascinating insight into the textile tradition of a culture that suffers from so much negative characterisation. In short I got a lot from the exhibition, it felt like it could trigger many interesting paths of discovery and made it clear that textile art is strangely undervalued in London's galleries because there were so clearly many different approaches to different subject displayed here. Hopefully we'll see more of this kind of thing.

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