Monday, August 31, 2020

"Among the Trees" at the Hayward Gallery



Among the Trees is at an art exhibition at Hayward Gallery which reopened to the public this month.  It brings together artworks by 37 artists who, over the last 50 years, have explored our relationship with trees and forests. I includes works by artists Tacita Dean, Peter Doig, William Kentridge & more.

You can see the 4 minute virtual tour by the curator above.

a cinematic portrait of a 30-metre-high spruce tree by Eija-Liisa Ahtila

The two reviews of the exhibition below both award it three stars - apparently on the basis that while there are some impressive pieces, it's a case of finding it difficult to see the wood for the trees.
Others - by the Evening Standard and the Observer gave it four stars
But though there is a Peter Doig thicket, painted on canvas, one of Tacita Dean’s photographs of ancient uprooted cedars and a huge anthropomorphic lightbox by Jeff Wall, in which olive groves seem to shelter migrant workers, what is so extraordinary is the way the trees cease to belong to the individual artists. They rise above art, in the end, creating an atmosphere of serene reverie very rarely experienced in a gallery.
We know reviews are personal to the reviewer. I sometimes think this applies particularly to those who lives in cities when the review is about an exhibition involving trees - and maybe depends on how well attuned they are to trees. 

A number mocked the David Hockney RA - A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which contained many many trees back in 2012 - and yet it was one of the most popular exhibitions the RA has ever had - even more popular than the Van Gogh exhibition at the RA.

That's because 
  • the public often don't arrive with a perspective of what an exhibition should be - and enjoy viewing trees! (I went four times - and I definitely knew what it was going to look like after my first visit!)
  • there's a fair number of people (and some reviewers) who live in towns who also like looking at trees
The exhibition at the Hayward Gallery is open on Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 7pm and Sunday, 10am – 6pm; and closed on Monday and Tuesday. You must book online before visiting.

Personally I'd like to visit if only to see that curious Peter Doig painting looking at a building through tree branches. Now there's an artist who likes to live with trees.....

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