this time last year i went to the tate st ives and wrote a teeny review / thoughts-from-the-head blog post of the patrick heron show SO i thought it appropriate to do the same-same-but-different thing again .
at the start of august myself and my frenz went to cornwall for our holibobs bc we are #InternationalJetsetters . on one of our days out in various kernow towns we went to st ives and i reminisced about my holiday there last year and so i dragged two different friends around the tate this year.
i was much much more excited to see the current tate st ives exhib than i was to see heron’s last year ( despite really enjoying it ) bc of 2 main reasons :
- my mum sent me a link of said exhibition months ago saying it reminded her of my “art” (insert voice note of me making an “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeep” sound)
- i’d never seen a female lebanese retrospective before
without further ado here are a few things i want to say about the huguette caland show @ tate st ives ………
bare w me bc i didn’t make any notes sTUpiDLy so i am going off memories / photos because my mind is the only reference i need
the space (the main big gallery room – i forget which number) in tate st ives is really big and really boring just like a lot of galleries and just the tate as a whole & what i felt with the heron exhibition last year was that from a curatorial POV it was bland and empty despite his paintings being bigbigbig and briiiight .. and unfortunately i felt more or less the same way when walking into the caland retrospective . like yes granted it is a massive white cube but as a group of curators working for the tate u would think ur expertise would come in slightly more handy but WHATEVER the art thankfully made up for the snooze-fest-display .
i think the first thing u see before going into the empty room of art is a video piece ABOUT caland and her life and her art and her pretty pretty face which was a nice break from reading artist biographies / exhibition descriptions on the wall of a flat gallery . so this is where we learned about this cool artist i’d never heard of — learnt things such as her dad being the first president of lebanon & that she left beirut at a young age to pursue her artistic career in paris, c’est la vie !
most of the works exhibited were paintings / drawings hung on the walls however there was also some cool textile pieces which i was not expecting – so at first i was like eeeeeeeek i really don’t like paintings i’ve j forked out a fiver to see paint i hate eeeeeek – BUT kids , and this is a big statement , this exhibition made me LIKE painting all over again!!! who’d have thought it what a good summer !!!!
caland’s paintings were some of the most vivid , glowing, captivating paintings i have ever seen!! like genuinely!! u gotta see it to believe it bay-bee. the colors and pigments and care taken in the handling of the paint is magic!!/!! there was one painting [insert photo below] that i had to stare at from each and every angle to see if there was a wire somewhere that belonged to some kind of LED strip light bc the painting was JUST THAT BRIGHT ! and if u know moi u will know i am a magpie for 1. sparkles and 2.bright bright colors (but not to wear thanks yew)
a lot of caland’s art (specifically paintings) were focussed on the human body and her personal physical relationships w ppl which can get q dull especially when the image captions are b-o-r-i-n-g but i personally absolutely loved both the tender intimacy of her works combined with the raw in-your-face-ness that her art evoked. the first painting i saw and literally stopped and stared at for a long time was just – to the naked unobserving eye – a red, very very red, canvas. this piece was called soleil rouge but was initially titled cancer. this painting struck me for a number of reasons , both personal and artistic, & i remember thinking wow i have never had this much of a connection with a piece of art before, let alone a painting! so i felt a big sense of vulnerability when staring into this bright red abyss . caland made this painting after the passing of her father who died of cancer in 1964 and omgomg omg i can feel the energy that this image radiates rn it is slapping me in the face. but yes when u look at it for ages u can see caland’s crazed emotional angry sad mad brushstrokes that spiral off into the image transforming from a sea of red to an exploding sun – every where /each time i looked there was pure emotional energy that i for one had not witnessed before and i loved it. and eugh i am such a huge massive idiot i didn’t take a photo bc i was in that much of a trance & it isn’t anywhere i can find on the interweb !!!!! grrrowl. Sorry L
the next room was called body parts & exhibited works that caland created a series of titled ‘bribes de corps’ that she worked on when she moved to paris in 1970 – this room was full of paintings and miniscule drawings that depicted her physical ties with people in her life — the little drawings included in this room were what reminded my mother of my drawings so that makes me happy bc they were so COOL i am getting a tattoo of one of them one day i have decided. also loads of these sketches were direct responses to female sexuality and body erotica which i am all about.
there was another painting which i really really liked it looked like a psych rock album cover or something i very much enjoyed it as a fun piece of art but for the life of me i can’t find out the name but here it is down ere à i remember the people/ faces depicted were each important or influential people in caland’s life and i believe i am right in saying that the squashed yellow fella at the bottom w the tache was caland’s lover – i wonder why he is squished and angry looking below a mass of naked bodies huh /??? also i might b wrong but i think i am right and i also think that is caland and said squashed lover kissing to the left as well.
the other painting i j wanna have a little talk about is the painting i saw that made me change my mind about painting . i have a big romance w this image it even made it onto the ig feed . omfg i can’t find the name of this one either but i am sure sure sure it was called ligament or bone or SOMETHIGN but when i type it into google it doesn’t come up but ANYWAY it is a painting of a bone as u can see. the painting was so understated and delicate and pure and j so contrasting to caland’s other paintings that were on display that it really grabbed me. people, like me, i think would ordinarily gravitate to the big bold brazen paintings that take up a whole wall – so it was with blessed relief and surprise that this was the second and only other painting i stopped in awe at in this exhibition . i can’t really describe why i have such a huge flirtation w this image bc it is really just a pic of a human bone and like yes i love skeletons but this isn’t even that skeletal – i think it oscillates between fragility and tenacity maybe???? there is something very real and naked and exposed about this image but at the same time i wouldn’t like? mess with it??? idk i just think about this painting and it’s a work of art that will not b forgotten in my little head . u can ask my two pals how many times i said “omg look at that i absolutely love that wow” about it. <3
i’m gonna leave it there bc i think two fleeting love letters to two paintings is enough for a girl who has just changed her mind about the love-hate of a paintbrush . i’d really urge u to head deep down south west to see this exhibition if u can !!! not only was it a refreshing retrospective on an artist whomst most people probably have no idea about (a female from lebanon at that!) but it was also brutally honest and to b real i felt like i had been transported off of the gull-infested seaside town of st ives to a remote island with nothing but a pencil in an attempt to describe what i felt as i viewed this exhibition . annoyingly it is only on until september 1st so if u wanna get down u better make plans now!!!!!
i love u all!! bye!x
Written by Milly Cooke
Featured image courtesy of Tate.