Frank Bowling’s ‘Right Here. Right Now.’ was shown in conjunction with a show from his partner Rachel Scott’s show ‘Warp & Weft’ at Chelsea College of Art and Design in the Triangle and Cookhouse Spaces.
Bowling’s large paintings are a violent series of coloured abstractions set out in shapes or patterns that band the canvas, similar to works by Rothko. Yet unlike Rothko’s pieces, these don’t seem contemplative, the use of neon pinks and yellows arrests the viewer, demanding attention however a lot of it does seem to be a bit muddy and I am not sure whether I am a fan of these pieces. Large colour fields always incline me towards a painting but I don’t think I enjoy Bowling’s new work especially when compared to older pieces.
These great colour expanses then contrast heavily with Rachel Scott’s work in deep earth toned tapestries. All the tapestry works are untitled and I think this makes it harder to engage with the works beyond seeing them as a hall carpet hung up on a wall. The patterns do hold interesting arrangements such as those that may be found in a Paul Klee drawing, yet with only the smell of the wool and a contrast between dull grey and dull brown to hold the attention it felt dull. The most interesting aspect of the show was a wall that had a number of tapestries put together as one piece. I think this kind of thinking about display is what was lacking from some of the other pieces, the dynamic of the interplay between these works made them more of a spectacle that could be read into and enjoyed.
Carsten Nicolai’s ‘Unicolor’ exhibition is probably a little bit lost on me (being colourblind). The show features two pieces at the top of a carpark hosted by The Vinyl Factory, one however is primarily aural. ‘bausatz noto ∞’ (1998) consists of 4 turntables integrated into a work top, with 4 sets of 12 unique coloured vinyl records displayed on a wall nearby. The piece asks the audience for interaction, each turntable has a variable speed, each vinyl has a certain number of looped grooves that will play their distinct tone forever. Additionally there is a second hole in each record that allows them to spin asymmetrically further changing the audio. With all these permutations, one can run through a serious of amazingly different soundscapes in a couple of minutes and pretend to be a dj at the same time. The only problem is the feeling of being rushed with other people, records in hands, waiting their turn on the tables.
The piece ‘unicolor’ (2014) itself explores the psychology of our perception with a set of screens displaying colours and colour patterns, each of which is slightly tailored to explore a different aspect of colour perception. In a room dark other than for the screens, bordered by mirrors showing an infinite regression of colour, it is easy to lose yourself in a feeling of endlessness and serenity, staring at the ever changing colourscapes ahead of you, but I spent much of the time asking what colour is that? what is that? oh I thought it was pink… that’s not green? But nonetheless found the whole experience rather enjoyable.