Egon Schiele – The Radical Nude
As the title suggests Schieles work on display contained a degree of nudity. I first want to approach my opinion and views on the exhibition by talking about my surroundings. By this I mean the sea of people that filled every inch of each of the two rooms. I like to people watch, who doesn’t? And from viewing explicit exhibitions such as Schieles I have come up with the following conclusion about the viewers; you can divide them up into three categories:
- Some people take an instant loathing to the nature of the work and thus hate the piece regardless.
- Others who regard the nudity as the elephant in the room. Not mentioning it and exaggerating other parts of the picture to compensate for this.
- Thirdly those who love it purely because of the fact it’s nude, rude and annoys people.
It is this mix that makes his work so popular. The nudity and unusual style forces you to make a judgement. Good or bad it doesn’t matter “any press is good press”. Along with this the more people that hate it (category 1), the more that love it (category 3). But without the uniqueness of his style, that differs from anything I have ever seen before, the crowds around me would not be getting the chance to view his exhibition.
Schiele’s way of almost scratching the lines into existence gives the piece a gritty and unclean feel to it. This added with splashes of colour allowed him to highlight what he wanted the viewer to focus on. The reason for these areas of focus could have been to highlight what he was most interested in/found to be most important.
I overheard a middle aged man next to me refer to Schiele as being an ‘influential feminist’, this took me by surprise. I would never had come to this conclusion on my own. Their reasoning they gave for making this statement was that Schiele was focussed on the private areas of women and therefore… loved women… I think this was a very narrow minded statement, a common male misinterpretation of the meaning behind feminism. Schiele depicts women, most of which prostitutes, in very disconcerting manner. The colours and positions are very corpse like. This theme runs through the whole exhibition and is not confined to his drawings of women, suggesting, his pieces don’t have a strict underlying meaning and that his focus is purely on experimenting with the skeleton like body image rather than personally considering the connotations surrounding this style.
Visual: 7/10 Conceptual: 4/10 Overall: 6/10
Marlene Dumas – The Image as Burden
After handing over my weeks food money I was granted entrance. The first of 14 rooms contained many disfigured portraits named ‘rejects‘. Each picture consisted of two overlapping images with areas cut out allowing the covered image to peep through. I must admit I enjoyed this room and found myself comparing the almost caricature like faces to friends and family. However, I found that any conceptual meaning of these images was forced upon them afterwards, rather than being the reason for their development.
Flashbacks of handing over £16 pounds (a lot for a student) greeted me whilst working my way around room 2. You would be annoyed to receive a meal that was created by a ten-year old chef whilst dining at a top establishment, I see no difference in a gallery. I believed it was un-tasteful to include Dumas’ Miss World ‘drawing’ and somewhat spoilt the rest of the room for me.
I continued on, pushing previous thoughts to the back of my mind. The next major piece that caught my eye was in room 5, ‘Black Drawings‘. I noticed straight away that the portraits had been painted in very dated, stereotypically racist ways. With further inspection the meaning behind the whole piece turned out be her way of showing that even when news papers, magazines and the like tried to generalise black people in a derogatory manner, they still highlighted the uniqueness of each person thus counteracting their own racist views. However, I am unsure about the effectiveness of ironic imagery and would have considered this very risky considering it was created just as the apartheid was ending. Leading to a high possibility of it being misinterpreted…
Dumas’ work was inspired by a lot of different political situations. I felt that she did not stay focussed on each of these for long enough however, thus the latter of 14 rooms felt almost rushed without the consideration that the topics deserved. It made me feel uneasy about what I was seeing, I wanted to convince myself that she was using the power she holds as an established artist for good and that by discussing these political issues she was raising awareness with a positive effect. But I couldn’t help the overriding sense that money was the main objective with most of the pieces. I could be being unfair to Dumas and this may have been the fault of curator trying to fit too much into one and consequently minimising the impact of each picture. Unfortunately the egotistical nature of the many quotes, do not give me much hope for this.
Overall I believed the exhibition to be stretched out. If it had been divided into a few much cheaper exhibitions I may have jumped to different conclusions. I enjoyed a lot of the visual aesthetics to the pieces (excluding the odd and unnecessary pornographic room with almost all pictures being owned by private collectors…) and appreciated how she had used different techniques that you see being built on throughout the many rooms.
Visual: 6/10 Conceptual: 5/10 Overall: 5/10