Tuesday, 16 June 2015

In which my other half gets a new name, and I discover the abstract art of Agnes Martin at the Tate Modern

It is confirmed.

There will be a return to New Zealand this year.

Life is good.

Next winter will become summer, and short days will become long.

All I have to do now is find a flight around the world that takes in eldest child in Vancouver, followed by South Island, New Zealand for work and photography, on to Canberra to visit photography friends, Perth for a meet-up with my other half (OH), who happens to have business to do there, and then home again.


OH is temporarily renamed as FG ( flight guru). For it seems that he knows about flights more than those people that spend all day booking flights for people as a day job. This is a man who knows the leg length of all seats on all planes, which is the best seat to sit in, and even knows what type of plane he is on when he is on it...

As for myself, I can only tell you about the colour of the cones on the runway.

Enough said. He has been very helpful, and I am sure eventually the perfect scenario will present itself.

He has been so helpful that I might have to offer him a premium upgrade to a more appropriate term such as DB (dearly beloved). If he offers me some of his air miles, then its a done deal.

I popped up to London last week to see the Sonia Delauney exhibition at the Tate Modern.

But when I got there I got side tracked by a small poster for an exhibition by Agnes martin.

A painting.

Very geometric, simple and, to my eye, beautiful.

Agnes Martin
Friendship 1963
incised gold leaf and gesso on canvas
Museum of Modern Art, New York

So I changed my plan, and visited the Agnes Martin exhibition after a short sojourn admiring the afternoon light in the turbine hall.

turbine hall © caroline fraser

I am going to have a little moan about the policy of 'no photographs' in some art and photography exhibitions.

Photography is not allowed in the Agnes Martin Exhibition.

I decided to be obedient.

And felt faintly irritated as I watched others boldly taking photographs in the normal way that people always do in exhibitions where photography is not allowed.

between the artworks at the Tate Modern

So I cannot give you a sense of the size and impact of the large gold leaf covered canvas. Or the simplicity of the hanging in the light filled rooms. Ethereal in places.

Words don't do the job.

I am, however, allowed to share this video about her abstract paintings.

Agnes talks about her abstract work developing over 20 years, and in a film showing at the exhibition says of her abstract technique  ' it took 20 years.... every day I moved closer....'

She worked until she died at the age of 94. It was poignant to see her last big painting, with a lack of the precision of previous works; paint dripping down the canvas.

You can read more about her here

Agnes Martin
On A Clear Day, 1973

She talks about 'innocent moments' in which she stops thinking and stops responding. 'Innocent cells on a grid'.

She has commented in the past about her work;

'Its not about facts, its about feelings. It's about remembering feelings and happiness. A definition of art is that it makes concrete our most subtle emotions. I think the highest form of art is music. It is the most abstract of all art expression'


'I hope I have made it clear that the work is about perfection as we are aware of it in our minds but that the paintings are very far from being perfect — completely removed in fact — even as we ourselves are'.

In the absence of any photographs I made do with a couple of postcards.

And made my way home.

indulging my obsession with hazard warnings and the like on the way

Sometimes I feel that my images need more content. More of a narrative. More people even.

Having been to see Agnes Martin at the Tate, and reading a bit about her work processes, I  feel it is OK to carry on doing whatever feels right on the day.

Some days are definitely more abstract than others.

“Beauty is in the mind, not the eye.”

(Agnes Martin)

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