Invisible art at the Hayward
How can you “view” the invisible? Yes your imagination can conjure up some wonderful things with words, smell and touch to help, but is this really enough?
These were the things I recently asked myself as at a recent gallery visit to the Hayward.
So with a preempted heavy head of cynicism on my shoulders, ready to pounce with eyes-a-rolling, I walked into the empty room of the gallery.
Painter and performer, Yves Klein, portrayed his invisible art in a short film. Standing in a white room, he framed empty spaces on the wall with his hands, inviting you to view “nothingness”. A delightful little film; successful in its purity; organic and original, of its time (the 1960’s) but also fresh and current.
But arguably, it is the support of Klein’s slightly unusual manner and rather striking, attractive face that brings this otherwise uninspiring film to life. I mean put a handsome man in an empty room and I’ll watch it, (psst…Clooney give the Hayward a call!)Before entering a cornered off room, its description promised “an abnormal normality”. Its then when you’re standing in an empty room, with the humming of 2 aircon machines blowing in your face, you feel, well…rather stupid (and cold). Wow, how underwhelming is a room of “abnormal normality”.
Yet as you leave you can’t help but snigger and quietly congratulate the artist for getting away with it. It is the audiences inclination to be pessimistic about the work that becomes humorous once your in it and yet by going to the exhibition, you are if you like it or not, accepting that it is valid.
Another piece that left me wanting to high-five the artist for being a clever old prankster was that of Jay Chung. Directing a whole short film, with no film in the camera, with only a cast and crew photo to document this event.
“This could be my big break!” they scream with their eyes, I think not my friend; you may be a fine actor but your mate Chung is a better liar.
The successes at this exhibition were in the stories, being able to conjure wonderful visuals with the cleverly written opaque descriptions along the gallery walls. The great failure for me was the showing of excessive amounts of pieces of blank paper of “invisible drawings”. Indeed a blank canvas is the basis of many great ideas, but in this instance, the empty walls and my own imagination were enough, the paper cluttered my experience.
The exhibition runs until 5th August, you can get tickets here.