Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Avignon II

Hang in there: normal service is about to be resumed.

Yvon Lambert was given an old palace in Avignon to run as a gallery. It happens. He's obviously a hugely successful businessman who also has a real understanding of and sympathy for the work he collects, buys and sells.

He used the palace for a Barcelo exhibition this summer. The pots! A huge table of slashed, smashed, punched, grated, cracked pots, some with bricks shoved into them, broken half-dry so they half-bend, half crack, slashed almost to complete destruction. And often beautifully painted too, with horses, fish, vegetation. Painted pot-sculptures. They feel warm to look at. So many things have happened to them they almost feel human. Photography not allowed.

Jasper Johns: 'Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.'

The hang is immaculate. Everything is done to make the work – paintings, sculpture, pots – look as wonderful as possible. Everything has space to live and breath. Sense of absolute respect for the work. & the palace itself is worth the entry price.

Paso Doble is showing, a film of a performance by Barcelo and Josef Nadj, who's a choreographer of mime and dance. It's been performed several times. This is a very abbreviated version.

Barcelo is also in the Great Chapel at the Papal Palace, showing paintings made on massive slabs of clay. Clay, basic matter, turning into sea life, clay colours soft and glowing in the indirect light. They are built onto metal frames, but are often cracked. Difficult work to move around. Also a pot, but not so much has happened to it.

This painting is in the Little Palace, photography allowed without flash, but the light is murky. Late 13th century, the time of the Troubadors; two couples, with a musician emerging from bushes on the far left playing a double pipe, entirely surrounded by vegetation. Seems typical of the era: the Pope's private rooms in the centre of the massive stone palace are painted with groves and with people in the forest: even in the 13th century people lived in cities and dreamed of living in dense forest. The painting suggests a romantic tryst, but would you want a musician along to proclaim your presence to the entire neighbourhood?

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