Sunday, 3 June 2012

Qiu Shihua Exhibition: Weißes Feld

Today we went to see an exhibition by Chinese artist Qiu Shihua at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art (Museum für Gegenwart).

The exhibition is titled 'Weißes Feld' or 'White Field', and you soon find out why. It is the most extraordinary sight: people looking intently at canvases painted white!

It's all rather bizarre, and has the feel of "the emperor's new clothes" about it.

Actually, if you take the time to study the paintings you can make out in the painterly flow of the brush-strokes hints of trees and meadows. Or maybe it is your imagination, like seeing images in clouds. Either way, it all seems a bit much like hard work, especially in a museum that also has in-your-face instant art gratification from Warhol and Lichtenstein. If I wanted to spend hours staring at a painting and meditating on its meaning, I think I prefer a Rothko.

Maybe I'm just a philistine, but if you're going to present a white painting as a landscape, then the least I'd expect is if the artist had bought an original Constable or Turner and literally painted over it in thick white oil paint.That would at least have something to say about contemporary art!

Strangely, there is a catalogue accompanying the exhibition, and which costs around 60€. I might buy into the idea that you can read into these paintings magical landscapes conjured up by the texture of white-on-white brush-strokes, but how can you reproduce that on the printed page? Is the catalogue just a series of blank pages, and the real art is the con to get people to purchase it?

Anyway, this is a photo of my favourite painting at the exhibition:

(The exhibition Weißes Feld / White Field by Qiu Shihua continues until the 5th of August. There is a webpage about it here, but don't believe the example image they give - most of the paintings really do look like a white cat in a snowstorm).

1 comment:

  1. Um.. Yah. It's art. You don't question it. Just put it down to Art.

    Otherwise, I must be just as much a philistine because this strikes me as comical and bizarre.


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