Unfortunately the OCA study visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park was scheduled on a thoroughly wet and miserable day! Due to this, we spent time in the underground gallery looking at the Miró exhibition and at the Longside gallery looking at Anish Kapoor, but didn’t get chance to look at the sculptures in the grounds (or take any photographs). Gerald Deslandes guided us around the exhibitions and Jim Unsworth discussed the sculpting process and results.
Miró was a surrealist who concentrated on the allusiveness of nature. He found that the shapes found in one area of nature, seed pods for instance, can also be found in the human form, or other forms of nature. He had a connection with Gaudi in using organic forms and strong distinct areas of colour.
He worked in drawing, painting, collage and printing, but it was not until later in his life that he produced sculpture.
The sculptures are interesting, but I only like a small number of them. Gerald questioned whether Miró was actually a good sculptor and I agree. They seem to fall into a few categories, firstly the assembled pieces from found objects (subsequently cast in bronze), which don’t do much for me on the whole. Then the “blown up” smooth bronze sculptures which seem to work better in their model form than in the enlarged final form. Finally the more organic sculptures (not exhibited here) which look like children’s models. Maybe I don’t understand them enough, but none of them moved me and I could see a lot less in them than I could in his paintings.
Due to time constraints, I didn’t get chance to study many of the sculptures in great detail. One which did catch my attention though was a bronze cast wooden plank with shoes on it and something on top (I forget what now and unfortunately I didn’t note down its name and cannot find it on the internet). The sculpture as a whole didn’t grab me, but some of the detail did. Presumably at the wax stage of casting, the “plank” had been hollowed out from within one of the shoes, so on looking into the shoe you were looking into the whole sculpture. It was an unexpected discovery and I think that is the kind of sculpture which appeals to me, ones which have things to discover about them, questions unanswered, meaning unknown but open to the viewer imagination. That hole may have had meaning to Miró (or maybe the idea just tickled him as it did me), but I don’t feel I need to know what it was, only that I like it.
Anish Kapoor uses pigments to create brightly coloured sculptures or areas of very dark dense colour, and also highly polished reflective metal sculptures.
The pigment work references Indian culture in the way pigments are displayed in their markets. They also reference the female human body and the notions of opposites (solid/void), and also illusion and display (the shiny sphere appearing like fairground mirrors).
The sculptures I liked of his were “Adam” and “Void” for their interesting visual effects and the ability to get lost in their depth. “Adam” is a void in a large sandstone block which is coated in a dark blue/purple/black pigment. This absorbs all the light falling on it so you cannot tell if it is a void or not. Despite there being nothing to see, it was a sculpture you could stand and stare into, and for me it was reminiscent of the monolith in 2001 a space odyssey, having a similar sense of power and mystery.
As for the others, the bright colours in “White Sand, Red Millet, Many Flowers” & “Red in the Centre” were very bold statements, but I didn’t get the overall feeling they aimed to impart.
The reflective sculptures didn’t evoke any feelings for me and “Turning Water into Mirror, Blood into Sky” was a clever science trick, but the mechanics of the motor spinning the container and the annoying noise coming from it took away any message it was trying to convey.
An interesting general sculpture comment from Jim Unsworth:
When looking at art, you need to shift your perception from being a connoisseur, to looking at how it was created, how it makes you feel, and how those feelings have been portrayed in the medium.
I think I am starting to do this in terms of how it was created, but not in the feeling side of things yet.
A very interesting day out, and worth another visit (in the sunshine!) to spend longer examining some of the sculptures.