Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Action painting, drag & idea of the stage set

A new exhibition at Tate Modern takes a new look at the dynamic relationship between performance and painting since 1950. Contrasting key paintings by Jackson Pollock and David Hockney, it considers two different approaches to the idea of the canvas as an arena in which to act: one gestural, the other one theatrical.

The paintings of the Vienna Actionists or the Shooting Pictures of Niki de St Phalle have been re-presented within the performance context they were made, and juxtaposed with works by artists such as Cindy Sherman or Jack Smith that used the face and body as a surface, often using make-up in work dealing with gender role-play. The exhibition proposes a new way of looking at the work of a number of younger artists whose approach to painting is energized by these diverse historical sources, drawing upon action painting, drag and the idea of the stage set.

The Tate’s curator (contemporary art & performance), Catherine Wood, has been quoted as saying, “Quite a many of artists have a painting practice that only comes about because of an engagement with performance. “I thought, Where has that come from and how do we tell the story of how we’ve got to this point?” A panel discussion related to the exhibition will draw on the debates around the relationship between painting and performance raised by it. Opening with Jackson Pollock and David Hockney, it approaches how new art practices led to an expansion of how we understand not just painting and performance but art itself.

Catherine Wood, Tate curator of Contemporary Art and Performance, will be joined by artists Stuart Brisley and Paulina Olowska, and Magnus af Petersens, Chief Curator at Whitechapel Art Gallery and previously curator of the exhibition Explosion! Painting as Action at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, and Fundacio Miro, Barcelona. The discussion will be chaired by art historian, critic and writer Anna Dezeuze.

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