ART REVIEW

Doris Salcedo:
Shibboleth
           ****/5

 

Tate Modem must have a good legal team. Or perhaps it can rely on the goodwill of art lovers. The latest installation to take over the gallery's vast Turbine Hall follows in the slippery wake of Carsten Holler's slides. It's a 167m-long gash running the length of the hall and wide in places enough to fit an entire foot and leg. Should unwary visitors stumble, Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth could be a health and safety nightmare.
Yet the danger is a relief in an over-sanitised culture, and Londoners are mostly used to minding the gap. Beyond broken ankles, Shibboleth raises serious issues. The title refers to the Biblical test used to detect foreigners, a word difficult in its pronunciation.
For Colombian artist Salcedo, the crack reveals 'the history of racism, running parallel to the history of modernity'; it represents a fault line within cultures as well as cement.
Walking the line in the floor is also to renegotiate the hall. Instead of trying to fill its height, Salcedo has created a space that ignores monumental architecture.
Although she refuses to reveal how it was made, Salcedo has not opted for illusion. The gap is there, and will need to be filled in once the Unilever Series moves on Not many artworks leave a scar; hopefully this one will be confined to the concrete of the Turbine Hall.

Fiona Macdonald

Until Apr 6, Tate Modem,
Bankside SE1,
daily 10am to 6pm (Fri and Sat to 10pm), free.
Tel: 020 7887 8888.
www.tate.org.uk
Tube: Southwark

Prunella Clough
   
Metro 11/10/07  
   

ART REVIEW

Rachel Howard:
How To Disappear Completely
****/5

 

Back in the 1990s, Rachel Howard was Damien Hirst's assistant. Off the back of that spell, Hirst called her his best spot painter. But whatever discipline she learned painting Hirst's repetitive spots, Howard has moved on to create paintings that are as complex as they are beguiling.
Whatever else may separate them, one thing the two artists have in common is a preoccupation with death. Howard has completed a series of paintings all about suicide. You can see the possible instruments of death in smudgy, ink-like gloss paint -a pair of scissors or a ladder or perhaps the scene of a death, a bed for instance.
Or you'll see the familiar metaphor for the suicidally depressive -a black dog (pictured), not fierce and threatening but pathetic and emaciated. Then there are the smudgy black figures with faces obscured, their shadowy, disintegrating bodies given up to their final moments. Vividly animating the surface are shimmering faint strips of translucent colour. If all this black gloom seems to get a bit repetitive, a surprising burst of colour greets you on the top floor: a series of large abstract paintings, mostly featuring a complex criss-cross of horizontal and vertical strips. Unlike the figurative works, these go under the title of Suicide Paintings. They are joyously seductive.

Fisun Giiner

Until Feb 23, Haunch of Venison, 6 Haunch of Venison Yard, off Brook Street W1,
Mon to Fri 10am to 6pm (Thu to 7pm), Sat 10am to 5pm, free.
Tel: 020 7495 5050.
www.haunchotvenison.com
Tube: Bond Street

Prunella Clough
   
Metro 17/01/08  
   
 

ART REVIEW

David Hockney: The East Yorkshire Landscape  ****/5

Hockney On Turner Watercolours  ****/5

 
   
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Wdgate Woods: One of five vibrant oil paintings by David Hockney in which he captures all the seasonal colours of East Yorkshire landscape.
   

The imposing Manton stairwell at late Britain might seem an odd place to hang David Hockney's new canvases: you either have to crane you neck to view them from below or stand level but at an odd-angled distance to view them in their entirety. You might, in fact, think they were left over from a main exhibition, the stairwell being the only place they could be squeezed in as an afterthought.
But the longer you look, the more you'll find that Tate Britain's stairwell offers the optimum viewing distance for the five vibrant East Yorkshire landscapes: at such a distance their brilliantly mottled surfaces appear to agitate and vibrate with life. Their colours, striking complementary shades in deepest greens, violent oranges and cooling lilacs, are reminiscent of the great colourists of the post-Impressionist age, particularly of the French painter Andre’ Derain - even though Hockney observes a very different light to that of the south of France.
These composite images of a patch of shaded woodland, called Woldgate Woods, observe the different seasons. The winter trees offer beautifully skeletal silhouettes, while the summer vistas are lush with nature's abundance. Since reconnecting with the landscape of his Bradford childhood, Hockney has produced some of his most vivid, electrifying paintings.
These five new paintings are in oils but Hockney's recent exploration of the medium of watercolour has undoubtedly also had a rejuvenating effect on his work. This rediscovery of an old medium, so long associated with the twee landscape painting of the amateur Sunday painter, has, in turn, inspired Hockney to look at an earlier painter of watercolour landscapes: JMW Turner.
While at the forefront of the campaign to save Turner's 1842 watercolour The Blue Riga for the nation, Hockney was invited to curate a show of Turner's watercolours, for which he has chosen a series of unfinished sketches (The Blue Riga can be viewed among them). These small, light-infused sketches, such Land’s End, Cornwall, or the even wispier A Storm, are Turner at his most gorgeously atmospheric. In swift, gestural marks that leave most of the surface blank, you can, in Hockney's words, ‘sense the trace his arm’ in them. They are very different to Hockney's more solid forms, but one can fully appreciate how they continue to speak to living generations of watercolourists.

 
Fisun Guner
   
 
The East Yorkshire Landscape and Hockney On Turner Watercolours, both until Feb 3, Tate Britain, Millbank SW1, daily 10am to 5.50pm, free. Tel: 020 7887 8888
www.tate.org.uk/britain Tube: Pimlico
Metro 13/06/07  
   

   

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