Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs @ Tate Modern

“Never repeat the David Hockney at RA” is Hubbie’s & my mantra we recite to each other when a major art exhibition hits the town. As you have probably guessed it from our mantra, we missed the Hockney’s retrospective show at the Royal Academy in 2012. Every time I expressed my desire for the show, Hubbie kept on putting it off by saying ‘Let’s wait until the show becomes less popular’. A few months passed as such and when we finally agreed to visit, it was already a final week and no ticket was available. Gah!! We learnt our lesson and vowed never to miss another show willy-nilly.

So when Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate galleries, announced that the next major exhibition following their immensely successful Paul Klee retrospective would be featuring Henri Matisse, we were determined not to miss the boat!

The Sunday during Easter Bank Holiday was a wet one…

20140505-163722.jpg

Turbine Hall was filled with a ripple of excited chats by visitors who were free from umbrellas and macs…

20140505-163810.jpg

Matisse’s The Cut Outs was our primary objective, however, we had an even more urgent desire to fulfil… LUNCH!
A queue in front of the ground floor cafe was too long for my empty stomach which was nearly keeling over. Therefore we made a beeline for the lift and climbed up to a top floor restaurant.

A view of St.Paul’s from the window of the restaurant heaving with lunchtime diners…

20140505-163945.jpg

We were literally the last people to have lunch there for the day! A couple queuing right behind us was told by a receptionist that the kitchen was closed for lunch and therefore they could offer afternoon tea menu only. I hope we weren’t looking too smug then.

Yayoi Kusama’s art graced the wall of the dining room…

20140505-164104.jpg

Yippee, my fish & chips!!

20140505-164150.jpg

I highly recommend the fish & chips at the Tate. Either at their ground floor cafe or top floor restaurant, it is seriously good. The batter is crispy outside and fluffy inside but non-greasy while the fish was moist and succulent.
Since knowing this fish & chips was the last one out of the kitchen, it tasted even better.

With our stomachs comfortably lined, we headed to the gallery on the second floor…

20140505-164635.jpg

The exhibition was not as packed as we feared. Most of the works on display were large and therefore they were even better to be viewed from the distance. We hired audio guides and sauntered around the galleries, feasting our eyes on Matisse’s colourful creations.

After Matisse, we also viewed Richard Hamilton’s retrospective show too…

20140505-164725.jpg

I could see how a certain YBA artist inspired by his work. However, it was a little too similar and I found it rather disturbing.

We also admired works by Dan Flavin…

20140505-164819.jpg

I saw his collection when I visited Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. One of his installations was displayed in the town, utilising an unoccupied shop space. It was a strangely alluring sight that coloured fluorescent tubes in pink, blue, green and yellow were shimmering and the light was bleeding out from the window and onto ordinary everyday surroundings of the American suburb.

We were a little tired so moved on to the members room for tea & cake….

20140505-164944.jpg

I had a raspberry macaroon and a pot of Darjeeling….

20140505-165038.jpg

Tate Modern’s new extension under construction…

20140505-165129.jpg

Hubbie and I speculated how this Herzog de Meuron’s addition would turn out to be in 2016. Hubbie was a little concerned about the slanted walls, reasoning it wouldn’t be great for hanging arts. I am sure there must be a plenty more of vertical walls in this massive extension.

Broken lines on their concrete structure…

20140505-165330.jpg

Are they for hanging wall claddings?
I love ogling buildings especially the one under construction. How each element is put together three-dimensionally, it is so clever and fascinating. Oh, I can hardly wait to see the result…

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…

Image

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…

Image

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…

Image

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…

Image

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…

Image

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

Image

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

Image

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…

Image

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

We left the gallery, thoroughly satisfied and excited…

Image

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

Image

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

Ibrahim El-Salahi @ Tate Modern

Last sunday, the weather looked rather ominous – mean looking dark clouds were gathering above us and winds were increasing its strength by the minute.
With umbrellas tucked under our armpits, we were trudging towards Tate Modern, Bankside while being whipped up by the gale from all sides which channelled itself between a new extension of Tate Modern and the next door all-glazed extremely ugly Yuppie apartment blocks.

The design by Herzog & de Meuron stood against the grey sky, resembling a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle…

Image

Hubbie and I were there for the exhibition of Ibrahim El-Salahi.

Mr.El-Salahi is a native Sudanese artist who is a major contributor to the modernist movements in Africa and the Arab worlds. He studied art in Sudan and UK.
After Sudan was freed from British colonial rule, he returned to his motherland and joined a collective movements which aimed to define a shared Sudanese cultural identity.
During the ’60s, he travelled around Sudan extensively and established his own style in which he merged his academic training in UK with traditional Sudanese art & craft practices…

Image

In El-Salahi’s early masterpieces, figures with African ceremonial masks are surrounded by Islamic motifs such as a crescent moon and calligraphy from Quran…

Image

Image

In another works, multiple layers of oil & enamel paint mixture is employed to create a pottery-like texture – the surface undulates with the build-up of the pigments…

Image

Image

He was wrongly imprisoned, together with the Sudan’s leading intellectuals, after the failed military coup of 1975…

Image

The experience affected him deeply and his style transformed from early colourful & experimental forms to more somber black & white ink drawings.

In his recent interview, El-Salahi explained how his works would start spontaneously – no scenario or no predetermined size and not even any title.
His gentle but precise pen strokes would steadily fill the paper until the image outgrew a given space. Then, he would move on to the next sheet of paper and so on. The work would keep on growing in size until he felt the picture was complete…

Image

Image

Image

He explained about this particular method of working as the result of a less generous workspace in his studio at Doha, Qatar, after his release from prison.

Since 1998, he moved his residence to Oxford, UK permanently.
This work is titled “The Tree”…

Image

The bold colours are infilled with delicate pen strokes.
It resembles a decaying ancient fabric or a mystical genetic print. The beauty of the work takes my breath away.

The lush green of the British countryside must have stimulated El-Salahi’s appetite for colours.
His works start to become colourful again…

Image

Image

By visiting the exhibition, I had a rare opportunity to experience the artist’s unique journey. The journey which took more than a few unexpected turns beyond his control.
His tireless passion towards his artistic expression must have been a core strength which he relied upon during the darkest part of his journey. Instead of being made bitter by the unwarranted cruelty he received, he absorbed it as nourishment to grow and reach out to the sky like a haraza tree along the Nile in Sudan.

By the way, this weekend will be the last chance to view this extraordinarily African artist’s retrospective.
So don’t miss out or you may regret it otherwise…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Blog at WordPress.com.