Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Constructivism casts a shadow

At last I got to see the show Construction and its Shadow at Leeds Art Gallery, that I had seen on the Abstraktion blog a few weeks ago. I just made it, a week or so before it closed.

When I mentioned to the museum attendant how good I thought it was she seemed pleased that I liked it.
She said: "most people who comment say that it's rubbish".I was surprised by that, could it be that the fact of abstraction is still something of a shock for some? Yet here it didn't exactly seem new. The show felt like it was a reminder of a tradition.There was even that old museum smell (I like it).

I know it is still possible to hear it said of abstract painting that a child could have done it. But surely not this work. Most of it seemed complex, mathematical even (not easily done by children) and I would have thought difficult to dismiss.

It is a continuing quest of mine to see abstract art outside of London, so I had a good day in Leeds. At the Construction and its shadow exhibition I was particularly interested in the work by Jeffrey Steele. Later, I noticed that at the seminar I missed, about the influence of the British Constructivist and Systems groups, Jeffrey Steele had been speaking and I wished I had been there.

In the permanent collection of contemporary art I saw a Robyn Denny that I haven't seen for ages. When I saw it, I remembered hat I had seen it before, at Leeds many years ago. I also imagined that, back then I saw a big John Hoyland painting, but if I did it wasn't there today. (Just checking the catalogue I downloaded from the gallery website, there is a Hoyland in their collection. I would have liked to see that.)

There were three impressive John Walker paintings, as well as some by Terry Frost (not his best), and one by Gillian Ayres (Helios 1990, not my favourite). In the other collections, I particularly enjoyed looking at an Ivon Hitchens landscape.

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