Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Going to Chelsea - two summer art shows

I set off for Pimlico this morning with the intention of popping into the undergraduate summer show at the Chelsea College of Art and Design before concentrating my time on the new exhibition nearby at Tate Britain, The Vorticists. In the event the reverse occurred.
The Tate show is fine but it is a history lesson. Chelsea’s warren of rooms over four buildings is packed with the work by optimistic, mostly young and very much alive artists. Many of whom were keeping careful watch over their degree projects and ready to enthusiastically talk about their work.
There was too much to see at one visit. Some pieces stay in the memory like Gurmit Kaur’s Inside Out – Umbilical Cord sculpture installation (above) and Biddy Hodgkinson’s mixed media on canvas abstracts.
But for the most part I have to admit to being a tad underwhelmed.
The fault may well be mine for not appreciating the focus of third year students keen to show their command of the techniques they’ve been taught in pursuit of their BA (Hons).
Whether fine art, graphic, textile, or interior design, this viewer was struck by the confidence and skill, the mastery of colour and material displayed in a variety of media.
What I found lacking among these talented students was a sense of the now; an acknowledgement of the sort of world that exists outside the college in June 2011.
I could have easily missed these works or else they’re not encouraged in degree portfolios. In both instances that would have been a pity.
From students who are developing both as people and artists, I wasn’t expecting anger or outrage – even in established artists that can appear hackneyed and immature. But I would have liked the content to have been more relevant. Perhaps I need to wait for the MA show in early September.

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