Last month I went up to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a gallery 45 minutes north of Copenhagen by train. It's in Humlebaek, right on the water looking across to Sweden. It is, I think, one of the nicest places in the world.
The original house, the stunning modern additions that weave above through the lawns and down under the hill, the sculpture garden, the surrounding woods, the pier into the clear blue water, and the collection - all of it amazing. A stunning mix of Danish favourites (Per Kirkeby, he's my guy) and modern art from around the world. There is an excellent Gabriele Munter retrospective on, and some very good Ed Ruscha works on paper. And a Yayoi Kusama infinity room is always a special thing.
But this time around, it was the Alberto Giacometti gallery that got me. I love that when you visit a gallery or walk into a room, there is always something that stands out. And it could be a different something on a different day. I like slowing down for it, just wandering and taking things in and finding which pieces speak to my mood or state of mind at the time. And last month, it was the Giacomettis.
I've seen some of his pieces before, but not this scale; as in, not this many, and none this imposing. My heart skipped as I walked down the long passage towards the new gallery, dappled light from the gardens drifting in, and to the left, long glass cabinets sunk into the wall with small sculptures, just hand-sized to start with. There was one bust that I stopped for, took in more closely than the others, her long neck and the pressed texture so elegant and natural.
From there, I took a stairway to the left, down to the main space. The timber of the railing cascades down the stairs to the red brick floors and the white brick walls and a huge expanse of windows and bright light. Outside is a lake, and the light reflects and bounces off the water, through the birch and willow leaves. Downstairs is another bust, a man, which I came to in profile. He is looking slightly upwards, strong but humble. There are two narrow towering figures, women, and all limbs. One's breasts are low and small, countered by her full hips, the other's legs are set apart, like she's mid-stride towards you. The sense of movement and purpose is quite astounding. On the other wall is a plinth with five figures, more women, their hands to their sides, motionless and reverent.
Under the stairs are rough drawings and preparations, sketches and shadows of figures that have been framed to balance out the sculptural work. And by the window, one enormous Andreas Gursky photograph. It is as if you don't just see the shade and wind moving across the water in the photograph, you feel it. The mottled light and refractions of the image reflect the lake outside, and more closely, the mottled texture of the sculptures.
There is such balance and perfection in this room that I was moved to tears. One thing to another, the works and the space, the interaction of light and texture, of detail and feeling, stillness and movement. It was stunning.
I wrote about the ANOHNI's amazing MIRACLE NOW exhibition for the good people at fine print. They're a lovely team to work with, and I was so happy to share my thoughts about this exhibition. For me, the process of ordering my ideas and feelings, in response to works as layered and these, is a dream.
The theme of this edition is MATERIAL:
Expanding notions of meaning, emotion and intention; the validity of material thinking remains at the fore of artistic expression. Artists consider a range of ideas whilst looking at the ways in which their choice in materials may encourage, form, obstruct, or disrupt our reading. With a focus on rethinking subjectivity, our writers delve into matter, orientations, agency, fundamentalism and our relationships to things.
My review is right here, if you're interested.
There is a darkened room at the TATE Modern, on the second or third floor that is home to a series of Rothko paintings. It’s been on my mind since I last came to London three years ago, and was one of the first things I made time for when I landed.
Coming in from the bright light and bustle of the main gallery takes a moment as your eyes adjust to the dim. The canvases are substantial, bathed in soft streams of light from above. With Rothko, a postcard or picture online doesn’t come close to how they feel. It's only in the flesh that you can sense the depth and beauty of his work. Only in the dark that the panels are illuminated. The way the colours bleed into each other, the way they permeate the space. I spent ages in there, breathing them in, colour to my lungs. The ambiguity of shade reminding me how we change, how one thing becomes another, softly, gently, till the part and the whole are one.
People are quiet in this room, they feel the weight of the colours. There are nine paintings to take in, to feel at each side of you. They are blood red and deep bruises of purple, muddy and dark rust, all of them layered and shifting. They bleed, ebb into each other on the canvas and in to the room too. They are all rectangles or variations; some sit side by side as lungs, others stretch across, pulsing. In the dance between colour and light their texture seems ephemeral, but their presence is alive. I know that Rothko wanted them to feel oppressive, but to me they are beautifully rich. Visceral.
They are the darkened heart of this gallery.
I wrote some words about one of my favourite pieces from the 20th Biennale of Sydney for the lovely people at fine print. Emma McNally's Choral Fields was a real stand-out for me after my visit to Cockatoo Island a few weeks ago. It was nice to reflect on the pieces and try to capture some of their beauty in writing.
Image from the 20th Biennale of Sydney.
My friend Laura Wills, continuing to amaze me and make beautiful the world. Wheels in Flight was a sand drawing on Port Willunga beach, at the edge of the tide, commissioned by the local council.
Wish I'd been there to take it all in before the sea did.
All enamoured by Emily Besser on this Monday night. Because, lordy, the world keeps coming. After following along on her Instagram (another reason I just love the medium), I was very pleased to find a write-up over on The Design Files.
Amber Cresswell Bell puts it so beautifully: It is sometimes easy to pass off abstract art as ‘easy’ – especially when it looks random, scribbly and spontaneous, but it takes discipline, a practiced hand and a keen understanding of medium to really make a painting sing. Emily ‘anchors’ her works by giving them a title, but it is her fascination with the process – the accidental marks, or unconscious decisions made about colour, line and shapes – that incite the evolution of her signature style.
Stunning, original image by Emily Besser.
After thinking and dreaming and a little bit of scheming, I went ahead and booked a flight to Japan. For next month. Couldn't be happier about it, either. What's not to be amazing - fast trains, mountain villages, old friends, new friends, busy streets, another language and all the sashimi. Part of the trip was inspired by Grace Lee's stunning little illustrations - she has an eye for detail and colour and just the right amount of white space. I met her when she published Amazing Babes last year, and she is always turning out wonderful projects (I follow her Instagram to get a peak). And since she's Tokyo-based these days, I have found myself double-tapping to like everything and anything she shares. As you see here, she really captures the wonderful parts and people of this overwhelmingly busy and exciting town.
We're hopefully meeting up for a beer and hello which makes me happy - locals know all the best places, and she's so damn nice!
Oh, and her prints are available over at Lamington Drive if you know what's good for you.
Images by Grace Lee.
Falling in love again this week, with Evie Cahir's beautiful illustrations. I don't quite remember how I came across them, but I've had a tab open to her tumblr for the past two weeks, just trawling through and blissing out. The style really appeals to me, isolated and detailed, beautiful and sparse. Fill your boots, eh? She's a talented young lady (is she young? I actually don't know)(but we're all young at heart anyway). Her website shows her more recent work, and she sells some of the prints which is mighty tempting for me…
I've spent the last couple of days working through Hannah Gadsby's brilliant little series on Australian art on the ABC (very much worth a look if you haven't yet seen it). Of her many and excellent guests - my good friend Jason Wing among them - it was interesting to hear a little from Ben Quilty. I had just last week read something in the Spectrum, a piece on him in Broadsheet and, perhaps more obviously, fallen quite in love with the pictures of his studio by the talented Rachel Kara. I always love seeing where creative people live and work, it says so much, and this space was all kinds of amazing. I love how lived in and functional it felt (obviously) but mostly it was the beautiful mess that appealed to me. I like when things are a little undone. When there is thinking and motion caught in the way a book is left on a table, or some colours have been smudged across an old floorboard. A few here that to me capture the beauty in the detail, the art in the everyday.* All pictures Rachel Kara for Broadsheet.