Posts Tagged 'ICA-Boston'

Just Paint

I’ve often wondered why so many contemporary artists seem to exhibit signs of OCD in their work. Admittedly, I am neither an art critic nor a psychologist, but this “diagnosis” springs to mind whenever I see work in which the artist has spent countless hours reiterating a single motif.

One case in point: the recent Charles LeDray exhibit (workworkworkworkwork) at the ICA in Boston. I mean, what does making thousands of itsy-bitsy ceramic vessels (each one unique) say about the artist’s mental state? The LeDray show brought to mind an overstock sale in a dollhouse supplier’s warehouse.

Charles LeDray vessels

So I was primed to slap the same OCD label on Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist responsible for the ill-fated installation of 100 million (!) hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern in London this fall. The exhibit hall was quickly cordoned off after concerns were raised about the respiratory dangers from the silica dust kicked up when visitors walked through the seeds. Reading about this snafu in the New York Times, I initially thought Ai had merely one-upped LeDray in the “miniature ceramics taken to extremes” contest.

Ai Weiwei "Sunflower Seeds" at the Tate Modern

But then I watched Ai’s “making of” video and was by turns intrigued and charmed by his creative process and its result. I’ve watched the 14-minute video several times now, and its effect is as hypnotic as the questions it raises about work, tradition, community and art are profound.

Continue reading ‘Just Paint’

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