Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Baltic Gateshead – Dan Holdsworth, George Shaw and Jesper Just

Went to the Baltic today to see Dan Holdsworth’s  ‘Blackout’ (last opportunity before it closes). The exhibition feature seven very large (probably 8ftx6ft) prints of a mountainous area of Iceland. Holdsworth’s technique appears to be to print negatives of his pictures so the sky is jet black. In some cases this works really well -  in others things come about a bit wishy-washy.  Some seem almost like a computer generated image through the glaciers – others, for me at least miss the mark. I’ve been to Iceland – and I understand what he was talking about in the guide in terms of the timelessness of the landscape - this is not how I’d choose to capture it, but we’re not the same. I’m certainly glad I made the effort to see them. reproduced at the size they are they are almost monumental – so hat’s off to the guy.

By way of fascinating (and unexpected) contrast on the floor above was an exhibition by George Shaw - The Sly and Unseen Day . This, more than anything I have read, has convinced me that for my first Level 2/5 course I shall try Landscape. It doesn’t have to be long exposure shots of water. In the exhibition Shaw revisits the social housing estates of his youth and paints them with Humbrol enamel paints – the kind you use for model kits. They are, quite simply, delightful. Our second house, while not ‘social housing’ was in a near identical estate, and I suspect the collection of terraces, semis, back alleys and neglected community centres and shops that Shaw presents will be familiar to a significant proportion of people in Britain today.

The icing on the cake (almost literally as it was the top floor) was a series of three videos by Jesper Just – Sirens in Chrome, A Vicious Undertow and Bliss and Heaven. The three videos – about 10 minutes each – adopt Hollywood/music video production values – but leave you with a whole range of questions. it’s a shame that Sirens in Chrome is not available online, as for me it was probably the most intriguing, although Undertow was almost equally engaging as in asks questions about the relationship between an older and younger woman (mother and daughter perhaps) and a young man who appears to have the younger woman’s affections.

Sadly it’s too late if you want to see Holdsworth (at the Baltic anyhow) but Just and Shaw are there until mid-May, and in my view worth the visit.

No comments: