Paul Klee @ Tate Modern

Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible. – Paul Klee.

I think Paul Klee had the third eye. He saw what the rest of us couldn’t see and painted them to show us what we were missing. Paul Klee was one of my most revered art masters yet most of his works I encountered so far had been a complete enigma to me. Therefore, when I learnt that Tate Modern would host his retrospective show, the first large-scale exhibition in the UK for more than 10 years, I could hardly wait for its arrival.


I was not at all an art expert.
However, I felt it hugely rewarding and privileged to experience what this genius, Paul Klee, saw through his extraordinary eyes and through his various innovative methods, conveyed a poetic side of ordinary objects. In order to fully appreciate what he had achieved through numerous experiments, I must read his art-theory publications he complied during his teaching career at the Bauhaus. Even though, I hired an audio guide at the exhibition, and the guide itself was fairly informative, I was still left with lots of questions unanswered about his work.

The strongest impression I brought home from the exhibition was his astonishing ability to create a depth and distance by employing a seemingly basic medium. The more I looked into the works, the more I found its surface undulating, warped and deepened.

This work, titled “Opened Mountain” (1914), was produced during his break-through trip to Morocco.
The arrangement draws me further into the depth of surface…

– Watercolour on paper on cardboard.

In “Organisation” (1918), Klee repeatedly overlaid layer upon layer in order to achieve an imaginary field of distance…

– Watercolour, gouache, ink & graphite on paper on cardboard.

For “They’re Biting” (1920), he developed a new technique – black oil paint was spread over the canvas and while the paint was still wet, he overlaid a paper and scratched the surface with a metal tipped pen in order to create jagged and blotchy lines…

– Oil-transfer drawing and watercolour on paper.

A series of works from this period are filled with those humorous caricature like figures as well as letterings and arrows which are incorporated into the drawings.

This “Redgreen and Violet-Yellow Rhythms” (1920) is one of his most iconic works…

– Oil and ink in cardboard.

Tree like figures are overlapped with coloured squares and rectangles which resembles a wintery landscape being viewed through a coloured stained glass panel.

In the period during Klee produced “Ripening Growth” (1921), the works were dominated with tonal graduation experiment…

– Water colour and graphite on paper on cardboard.

Again, the technique appears basic and even rudimentary, yet, the execution is meticulous and creates a magical depth on the canvas.

Throughout his painting career, a certain symbol, such as an arrow, appears every now and then.
In “Separation in the Evening” (1922), there are two arrows pointing at each other. What are they for? The purpose of it is not entirely obvious…

– Watercolour and graphite on paper on cardboard.

In “A Young Lady’s Adventure” (1922), a red arrow points at the figure in the middle…

– Pen and ink and watercolour on paper.

What do these letters and arrows in “Analysis of Diverse Perversities” (1922) really mean?…

– China ink and watercolour on paper on cardboard.

On this work, “Battle Scene from the Comic-Fantastic Opera, The Seafarer” (1923), humorous figures are superimposed on the tonally graduated background, creating a charming 3-D like effect…

– Oil, graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper, bordered with watercolour, ink and gouache on cardboard.

The size of his works are definitely on the modest side whereby the level of detailing he achieved on this painting, “Structural II” (1924) is awe-inspiring…

– Watercolour and tempera on chalk-primed paper, with gouache and ink border on cardboard.

In this work, “Sacred Islands” – (1926), he created a labyrinth like landscape which draws its viewer to a multiple directions…

– Ink and watercolour on paper on board.

Klee must have been gifted with an incredible eye sight as well as nimble fingers. The drawing is meticulously inked with astonishing accuracy. The detailing on this drawing is simply beyond my comprehension.

Klee kept a fish rank at home. Therefore, fish in all sizes and colours graced his numerous works throughout the exhibition. One fine example is “Around the Fish” (1926)…

– Oil and tempera on canvas on cardboard.

In “Castle and Sun” (1928), his use of key colour provides a reference point from where I can feel an expansion of the canvas…

– Oil-colour on canvas on stretcher.

By a playful manner of subdividing the surface as well as a subtle use of the colour, “Town Castle Kr.” (1932) demonstrates how the illusion of undulation can be achieved…

– Oil on primed cardboard.

And the effect was repeated again with this work, “Fire at Full Moon” (1933)…

– Mixed technique on canvas.

While bright key colours, yellow and red, elevate themselves on the surface, more muted colours subtly suggest the unevenness of the terrain.

The period Paul Klee created his vast catalogue of works was far from calm. It was between two great wars and its ideological as well as political environment were changing dramatically. Being a German Jew and the Nazi branded his work as degenerate, his life toward its premature end was not at all peaceful. Yet, the works just before his death, “Rich Harbour” (1938) appears bolder and even defiant…

– Oil and coloured paste on drawing paper on burlap.

I wonder how Klee’s work would have progressed if the illness and the political suppression by the Nazi did not occur. He could have produced a prodigious amount of works. Hubbie and I left the exhibition, utterly enchanted by Paul Klee’s poetic interpretation of the world. We must say a big thank you to his third eye…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Saturday Night @ Tate Modern, Bankside

Last Saturday, we visited Tate Modern for dinner and the Paul Klee‘s exhibition. I was nearly shaking off my cold and itching to go out. Therefore, Hubbie booked the tickets on internet and off we went.

Tate Modern has been my most favourite art gallery ever since it opened its door to the public in 2000. I especially love the architecture. The old Bankside power station was remodelled and refitted by a talented architectural duo, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron in order to accommodate a vast collection of modern art which was stored in the Tate’s warehouse because of the lack of suitable space…


A mass of brickwork with an equally imposing chimney looms above the Thames. A volume of its brickwork and colossal weight is unarguable. It appears impregnable and impervious to any external assault. Yet, its footing, where the building meets the ground, is punctuated with narrow glazed slits here and there. These juxtapositions of heavy vs light, density vs weightlessness and opaque vs transparent, fuel my fascination and imagination every time I visit the gallery. For me, the charm of Tate Modern is all about this thought-provoking paradox which is dotted around all over the complex, including their art collection.
Another famous architectural face of Bankside is the Millennium Bridge by Sir Norman Foster, which connects the foreground of the galley with City of London. Approaching Tate Modern via the footbridge must be the most spectacular and rewarding way for many visitors. However, the bridge itself doesn’t excite me as much as the gallery does. Do you know why? Yes, the bridge looks great. However, it doesn’t inspire nor intrigue me. It’s a marvel of British engineering but not a piece of art which initiates any philosophical debate. The bridge could have won my praise if the design of the bridge, especially the Bankside end, was integrated to Tate Modern’s forecourt seamlessly. Instead of a cumbersome footing with zigzagging lamps, why the bridge could not morph into a part of the landscape? The effect would have been so much more elegant and magical. Well, the landscaping between the bridge and the gallery was somehow awkward from the beginning anyway. Maybe there was some artistic disagreement between three great architects?

Our entry to the Paul Klee exhibition was from 19:30, therefore, we decided to have dinner first…


Tate Cafe on the ground floor was fairly busy but their service was brisk and efficient.
I pondered between a burger or fish & chips, but in the end, fish & chips won me over…


The battering encasing the fish was so crisp and moreish. And the potato was fried to its perfection. Their mushy peas was minty and refreshing.

For dessert, we shared a slice of coconut meringue Swiss roll with red berry compote…


Our first two choices, trifle and cheese cake, were sold out, therefore, we didn’t expect much from our third choice. But oh my! We were betrayed in a good way. The cake was moist, fluffy and divine. And the berry compote added perfect zinginess to otherwise delicate texture of the cake.

After dinner, we browsed around a bookshop on the lower ground floor…


There were more than a few coffee table books I want to add to my Christmas wish list…


Then, we headed to the exhibition on the second floor via escalator…


For me, the escalator ride from the lower ground level to the second floor gallery level is one of the best Tate Modern experiences.

Paul Klee, here we come…


The exhibition was wonderful.
And I shall definitely review it properly in a few days time.

We left the gallery, thoroughly satisfied and excited…


The new extension of the gallery will be completed by 2015. I can hardly contain a huge expectation I have towards this exciting project…


Will it be as awe-inspiring as the existing Turbine Hall? We will have to wait and see for another 2 years. I shall keep on reporting any progress at the site in future…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Measure Twice & Cut Once…

last Friday, a commotion occurred as soon as my work-weary Hubbie walked into our door. ‘I can’t believe I’ve done that!’ His hands were up in the air with his face contoured in annoyance, he repeatedly rummaged through his bag. ‘What’s all this? What have you done?’, I asked him. It turned out that a hard-drive in which he transferred all the projects he had to review by Monday, was missing from the bag and he thought it was still in the office, on his desk. ‘I clearly remember disconnecting it. I thought I put it in my bag’, he lamented. In the end, we opted for a quick drive to the office so we could put his troubled mind to rest.

On Rosebery Avenue, a queue was forming along The Old Finsbury Town Hall.
Is there a Halloween party?


Shortly afterward we arrived at the office and Hubbie went inside while I waited in the car.
After 10 minutes or so, he came back with a very red face and muttered sheepishly, ‘I think it must be at home because I don’t see it in anywhere…’ WHAAAAAT? So we came all the way for nothing? As you can imagine I was not at all a happy bunny.
‘Since we are here with a car. Shall we drop in a supermarket to top up our supply?’ So we swung by Tesco on St John Street. We stuffed our basket with bread, fruits, eggs, bacon, butter, (also a copy of Grazia!)…etc, as we walked down the aisles. Shall we use a self-check out instead of queuing for a normal check-out? It turned out to be one of the worst automated check-out experience of our lifetime. First of all, the machine didn’t even allow us to start. We alerted a staff and she came for our rescue. She typed in some password and the machine was ready for scanning. Then, it started to act erratically again. This time, the scanner stopped working. The scanner went absolutely silent every now and them, interrupting us from stuffing our bags. We were getting increasingly annoyed and regretted for not opting for a normal check-out. Another annoying thing about this machine was a time-delay which had between items being scanned and moved to the bagging area. It kept on alerting us with an error message – ‘please remove any unscanned item from the bagging area’, we did scan it!! You dim-wit!! It was soooo infuriating. As the result, our little escapade at supermarket ended up being nothing other than a hair-tearing cursing session and left us utterly exhausted.
Once we were back in our car and Hubbie tried to start the car, the engine refused to ignite because a steering was locked. How many time did I tell you to straighten the steering when you are parking? It was just too much for Hubbie. He thought all the machines in the world were against him! Eventually, the steering was freed and we were on our way home. And at home, I did find the “missing” hard-drive in his bag. How could you miss it? The device was coloured in bright orange. I really think he needs a holiday or to take up less works…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

The Morning After…

The storm seemed to have departed from London.
Still breezy but not anything as ferocious as this morning’s. I had a few errands to run in Central London this lunchtime and snapped this picture in the middle of Oxford Circus…


There was a really fearsome noise followed by several car-alarms going off early this morning.
And this was the scene of the damage right by our apartment block…


I am sure the owner of the dented cars must be very annoyed but it was extremely lucky that nobody was around. Otherwise, someone could have been seriously maimed or even been killed.
Respect the power of nature. Never underestimate its potential…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

St.Jude’s Fury

I was lying awake in my bed early this morning, listening to the  commotions outside.
St.Jude the Storm was creaming London. It was beating up trees, kicking around traffic cones, wiping bits & pieces off from roof gardens, starting up car alarms…etc. In short, I was having a huge tantrum. And I was holding my breath, feeling the awesome power of the storm…


Mr.B was very unsettled by the noise too.
His super-sensitive ears pricked up and he was fearing for an imminent danger. Don’t worry, we are safe in here.
But I will hold the lead extra firmly when I walk you this morning. So you won’t be swept away by the gust…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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