One of the aspects I enjoy the most when visiting New York is the city’s familiarity from film and television. No matter how often I visit – not often enough and never for long enough – the connection with the movies won’t ever completely fade. New York has played itself and pretended to be other, often imaginary, places. It’s great backdrop after all. Katia Liebmann’s 1997 series Gotham City uses New York as a backdrop to a series of masked self-portraits.
Mariele Neudecker, I don’t know how I resisted the urge to run, 1998
There is something oddly strange about the way the light streams through the trees in Mariele Neudecker’s I don’t know how I resisted the urge to run. But for the uneven ground of the forest floor, I think I’d want to run too. The trees are bare and though their trunks are healthily tall and straight their branches are short and spindly. That all is not well here is reinforced by the eeriness of the atmosphere; the scene is permeated by a slightly toxic-looking fog
When I think about the role of art – if it can be said to have one – I think I fundamentally see it as holding a mirror up to the world. I guess this means art tells us stuff me already know, it just switches things around a bit, creating familiarity tinged with an oddness that somehow focuses the mind. Having just written that, I’m inclined to think it proves I probably shouldn’t think about the role of art at all. It just makes me spout art crap.
Susan Derges, River Taw, 16 July 1997 and River Taw (Ice), 4 February 1997
Having been thinking a lot about working processes this week, the images that are rattling round my head are mostly ones made by following intriguing processes. In one respect, Susan Derges makes work using one of the simplest possible photographic processes: the photogram. But Derges’s work isn’t made in the darkroom but in the landscape. And these are photograms made on an ambitious scale.
Taking a last look at Gerhard Richter: Panorama at Tate Modern, which finishes tomorrow, I was struck, as at previous visits, by the large, predominantly white, abstract painting in the final room of the main show. The white of the painting makes it feel like a large, snowy landscape at once charming me and reminding me that this winter has so far failed to bite.
The traces of colour coming through the white make me think of Peter Doig’s Ski Jacket, a painting of a similar size and somewhat similar palette, though Doig’s painting makes much more use of colour. (It also reminds me of Wilhelm Sasnal’s Photophobia though that lacks scale by comparison.)
Panorama, Gerhard Richter’s exhibition at Tate Modern, includes so many show-stoppingly great works – Aunt Marianne and Uncle Rudi (the juxtaposition of which I wrote about for MostlyFilm.com), the paintings of Richter’s daughter Betty, squeegee paintings both large and small to name but a few – that it’s a surprise when something quieter, seemingly simpler, works its way under my skin. But two rural landscapes, both painted in the mid-1980s, did just that. I was reminded of the time I spent with Barn and Meadowland last weekend at the Whitechapel Gallery when Wilhelm Sasnal’s rather larger argricultural lanscape Pigsty grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go.