The British Art Show, recognised as one of the most prestigious and influential exhibition of contemporary British art, is now on its seventh edition at London’s Hayward Gallery. Subtitled In the Days of the Comet, this edition explores the way in which contemporary art is developing, taking as its theme the idea of the comet as a sign of change, a measure of time, and a percursor of historical shift.
So this week I decided to go check out this touring exhibition that features all kinds of art, from paiting to sculpture, performance to design, which displays the works of 39 British (or Britain-based) artists, with many of them having created something especially for the exhibition.
Curated by Lisa Le Feuvre and Tom Morton, this display of the best and the brightest of the moment shows a wide range of influences and a mix of ideas that flow really well in the gallery, maybe because eveything is so different.
Already-established artists like Elizabeth Price, Sarah Lucas, Wolfgang Tillman and others are also showing their new creations. Alasdair Gray‘s paintings are one of my favourites. The artist who said he disapproves of Time captured moments from memory in exciting heraldic colours. The drawing of his son Andrew lying on a quilt made by Gray’s first wife was drawn in 1972, painted in 2009.
American artist Christian Marclay also stands out with The Clock, a highly acclaimed 24-hour film in which he managed to put together a montage of clips from thousands of films, showing scenes featuring clocks, watches or situations when time is expressed.
The fragments of film were edited together so they would flow in real time, so whenever you enter the film it is depicting the actual time of the day in real life. It shows a remarkable knowledge of the history of film, careful and clever editing, and creates a really peculiar and fun experience. As Laura Cumming from The Observer puts it: “Enthralled by these miniature scenarios, amazed at the visual drama, you forget the time but are constantly reminded of it on screen.”
Avant garde, convergent, varied, intriguing, mad, subjective. The British Art Show is definitely worth a visit.
British Art Show runs at the Hayward Gallery until 17 April, then touring to. Tickets are £8 (adults), £6 (concessions).