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Artist Research – Louise Bourgeois @ Tate Modern

October 30, 2016 in review

Louise Bourgeois @ Tate Modern

Located at the Tate Modern is the Artist room for Louise Bourgeois, the room contains works created by Bourgeois towards the end of her life with a  few of her earlier works on display also. Bourgeois worked with the concepts of family, womanhood and belonging, working most frequently with sculpture as we’ll as painting; the collection of her work at the Bourgeois shows us the true breadth and power of her practice.

Located in the cathedral like new building at the Tate Modern, Bourgeois’s works have been given pride of place in one of the many new spaces available to show work at the new Tate Modern. On going into the Bourgeois room you enter a small, initial chamber which houses one of her first paintings created when she moved to New York, a glass cabinet which houses a felt torso covered in pink beret’s attached by pins to a spool of blue thread and above the entrance you see one of Bourgeois’s spiders. This first room gives the viewer a sense of what it was Bourgeois aimed to examine within her practice. The ideas surrounding the female body and the cultural and social pressures that have been placed upon them as people to get them to the point where they just feel like motionless objects trapped in a glass cage. Her painting, one of her more traditional works in the respect that its not depicting an abstracted body like many of her other paintings, but shows the New York landscape being invaded by large, violent waves of a woman hair. Many have placed Bourgeois as the female in the painting with her three children topping a skyscraper in the background. The spider hanging above the door represents fear and trauma which Bourgeois dealt with in much of her work. The fact that this sider is only visible as you exit the exhibition is important, it mimics the sense of inevitability that comes with life, death is always at the end of it.


When entering the main gallery space you are immediately drawn to the large spider that stands in the middle of the space. Titled ‘Spider’ (1994) it looms over you like a burden on your shoulders. The piece makes you confront what large demons may be in your life, by acknowledging our fears it makes it easier to understand them. Bourgeois’s spiders come from a place that we as a society can understand, in our collective consciousness we know spiders can be poisonous, they’ve been villains in films, they terrify small children. She uses these pre-conceived notions of spiders to examine our society. This spider for instance has an egg sack, but the viewer doesn’t see this initially, they’re struck by the size of the sculpture and the thin, outstretched limbs. The fact that this spider is a mother is overlooked and seen as unimportant. In many of Bourgeois’s works she tries to show the viewer the truth about themselves and the world we live in, this spider is no different. This work deals with the concept of motherhood, of isolation, rejection and the strength of a mother to overcome prejudice.



As you walk through the exhibition you see large imposing sculptures such as ‘Cell XIV (Portrait)’ (2000), ‘Cell (Eyes and Mirrors)’ (1989-93) or one of the many hanging, woven human forms such as ‘Legs’ (2001). There is also a side room full of smaller sculptures which are held behind glass, some made from bronze and others fabrics such as wool and netting.

Cell XIV (Portrait)

Cell XIV (Portrait)

IMG_2066 IMG_2064 IMG_2062

Side Room

Side Room



The most interesting piece in the exhibition for me was the series of 16 etchings with mixed media on paper titled ’À L’Infini’ (2008–9). The work consists of 16 prints of the same image which Bourgeois then worked onto with other materials. ’À L’Infini’  translates to ‘into infinity’, within the context of the work we could understand this as the transition form life to death. The use of the colour red with the two parallel lines is reminiscent of arteries or internal organs. Within some of the images Bourgeois has added human forms tangled in between the parallel lines and abstracted parts of the human anatomy such as the penis and vagina, providing us with further evidence that the work is talking about the beginning and end of life; how life is hardship, that no one makes it through life without any scars. Red is present in this work, as it is in most of Bourgeois’s works on paper. There is no one path through the 16 images and each image seems to be foreign to the one next to it, yet they all seem to create a sense or narrative when there is none. Bourgeois manages to show us a portrayal of what life may be and what she knows it is to her.

À L’Infini

À L’Infini

À L’Infini

À L’Infini

À L’Infini (Detail)

À L’Infini (Detail)

À L’Infini (Detail)

À L’Infini (Detail)

À L’Infini (Detail)

À L’Infini (Detail)

À L’Infini (Detail)

À L’Infini (Detail)

The Louise Bourgeois room at the Tate Modern is in my opinion a well rounded collection of the artists work and allows the viewer insight into the motives behind the artists practice. As my friend that viewed the exhibition with me said, “I think she would’ve approved of it”. In my humble opinion, I think I can agree with her on that.

10am is When You Come to Me

10am is When You Come to Me

Artist Research – Anthony Gormley’s ‘Fit’

October 29, 2016 in review

Anthony Gormley’s ‘Fit’ @ The White Cube

I know it’s sacrilegious to say, but I haven’t really taken the time to go to many London galleries since I’ve lived in London. I’ve tried, but i’ve always seemed a bit too busy, or perhaps I was just a bit too lazy. One of the many  galleries I had never been to, happened to be the white cube in south London. I was struck by its location, hidden within a warren of housing estates, nestled behind a series of winding back streets which appear to only be populated by garages and long-forgotten pubs. It’s a striking building, obviously inspired the architecture of the brutalist and Bauhaus movements, but the building can most obviously be attributed to modernist architecture. To enter the gallery, you have to first have to cross an expansive brick courtyard to get to a large glass door. The door is probably 6-7 metres high and 3 metres wide. Like most galleries, the White Cube intimidates you into a state where you feel ready to accept an artistic and cultural education. The door also sets up the aesthetic of the whole experience. The main passage through the gallery mimicking the entrance is long and wide, with openings to the left and right every so often, leading you to gallery spaces or the obligatory gallery shop. The White Cube is reminiscent of something from a science fiction film or the J.G.Ballard novel, ‘High Rise’. I felt as if I were gliding through the space to the end of the hall where the Gormley exhibit began. You are greeted by a gallery assistant brandishing a map of the exhibit and a health and safety form alongside a small passageway large enough for just one person. The setup of the exhibition is something quite unique from any other exhibition I have been to. Each piece was given its own room in which to inhabit, and make no question about it the works lived in the room they were given. It is hard to explain in words, but the sight of a gargantuan block of concrete or steel waiting for the viewer in a space (a space which gives very little room for the viewer to navigate) forces you to observe the power of Gormley’s work. The rooms form a labyrinth which the viewer has to navigate purely by the visual power each piece has, dragging you from room to room. The layout of the exhibition is similar to the structure of one of the pieces in the exhibition, ‘Run’ (2016). A seemingly whole structure, that appears to have no beginning or end. It invites you to move around it and appears to want you to pass through it. ‘Run’ is a labyrinth that doubles back on itself, moving all directions and confusing the eye. This is what the layout of Fit is, a labyrinth of structures, each more thought-provoking and visually arresting than the last.


Fit shows a collection of new works made since 2015. Gormley’s work examines how the human body is represented within art and how people view the human body across the world. Gormley uses his own body as the inspiration and focus of his work. In my opinion he is first and foremost interested in how his own body can apply to all people. He abstracts his body to the point where you know that what you’re looking at is based on the human body but you’re not sure how.

Gormley primarily works with concrete or metal. I believe that even this is carries a meaning. Creating works that represent the human form, a frail and fragile thing, out of such solid materials is sending a clear message about human mortality and the idea that if you create someone, in this case a self-portrait, in such robust materials you basically immortalise a person. The image may tarnish, rust or become discoloured, but it will defend itself against the effects of time and nature. One of the most impressive and immersive works is Sleeping field (room VI). Sleeping Field (2015-16) is an installation made up of over 500 small iron sculptures. At first glance Sleeping field appears to be a depiction of the world from Ballard’s ‘High Rise’; a look into a dystopian future full of looming, grey high rise buildings. If you look closer you realise that Gormley has created over 500 human bodies in different positions, crammed in together in close proximity to each other and the room. Like other works by Gormley, he uses the human form and abstracts it to a point where you understand the notions that are tied up within our cultural idea of what a body is such as physical frailty, emotional weakness, male chauvinism, etc. By abstracting the human form to a series of iron cubes, Gormley  makes the work universal, allowing people to project their own ideas about body image and a person place in the world onto the work.

IMG_2090 IMG_2085 IMG_2091

The other piece that I feel is worth mention is ‘Passage’ (2016). ‘Passage’ is a 12 metre-long tunnel which has been created in image of the human form. It allows you to descend into the darkness that is created due to the length of the tunnel. It is a metaphor for the act of self-discovery that all people would take. At the end of the tunnel is a light outline of a human form, this outline is not so bright as to blind you, it is subtle. Upon reflection it is about exactly that, reflection. The act of self-discovery requires a certain amount of reflection, reflection on who you are as a person and the actions you take. The discovery that one makes after a journey of discovery (possibly a 12 metre journey) is never striking, as Gormley shows us, it is probably quite subtle.


Gormley’s exhibition, ‘Fit’, is a great show of where the artists work has come from and shows us that he is still able to make the audience question their role in the world and the impact the body has upon it.

Film review: Beauty in ‘The Little Prince’

January 19, 2016 in review, unit1

If the design could not move youself , then it could not move your
audiences. ‘The Little Prince’ is a timeless work as it present a story
of growth in children’s eyes that resonate with lots of people.

‘the little prince’ is one of my favorite novel as it universally
resonates with childhood memory of individual. Some say it is a
fairy tale for adult. I agree with that. However, as we know there are
not enough materials in the book , how to adapt it for a film?

I really appreciate by the imagination of this film which recreates a
narrative part based on the friendship between a lonely little girl and
her odd pilot friend in a modern age. Not only did the story enriched,
but also remains the spirit and feature of the original story.

The original plot of the story turn to a handmade stop-motion
animation in this film, it ‘makes a remarkable stylistic leap from the
accomplished but familiar CG environs…into the world of
Saint-Exupery’s original story to life in beautiful handcrafted images
based on the author’s own crudely elegant watercolors.’ commend
by Chief Film Critic. This part is the tale in the tale which might
represent the world in little girl’s mind. People always moved by
children’s drawing, even it is imperfect, but honest and imaginative.
this echoes Saint-Exupery’s core theme of looking at the world
through the hopeful, uncorrupted eyes of a child.

Growing is a timeless theme for animation. It presents as a process
of disillusionment. For example, in ‘ my neighbor Totoro’ (one of the
fantastic animation directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by
Studio Ghibli), why only the child could see the Totoro which is the
animal in the myth, is as you believe, you can see it. The little girl
asked her grandma, ‘have you see Totoro before?’. She answered
‘yes i have , in my childhood’. It suggests that as we grow up, we
became complicated in our mind and we do not believe Totoro as
well as Santa Claus are existing anymore.

It is the reality of growth
that we could not avoid, but we still like to see this movie which
recall the beautiful thing happen in our childhood. More than that,
‘ The Little Prince’ tells us a truth that the problem is not we growing
up, but we forgetting. We do not believe because we forget to
believe. As the little girl in the movie , she do not want to grow up as
adult world is cold and strange for her. She also fear of farewell,
especially with her friend. Life is always need to face these change
whether you like or not. However, the only thing we can choose is
to remember, as the girl says at the end, ‘ i will grow up, but i will be
an excellent adult and i won’t forget every beautiful thing .

People enjoy this movie is not only its presenting a beautiful and
pure world of child, but it impact our emotion as we might forget
something ever precious for us as a child. If we try to see the world
from child’s eyes, what appears to be a hat may in fact be a boa
constrictor with an elephant inside.

War horse: play and lecture review

January 19, 2016 in review, unit1

To be seen, to be believed

The play, ‘War Horse’, based on a children’s novel written by Micheal
Morpuro, is telling a moving story between a boy and his horse during
the world warⅠ. The story seems impossible to adapt for a theatre
production as the main character is a horse. Even it is a puppet
controlled by people, how to make people believe it and move by it as
reading the novel? This is my big question before seeing this play
because i think i might laugh the people who is seriously talking with a
no life object. However, when i see that really happen, i absolutely
believe the horse is alive. As the commend by Merro, it is a ‘Theatrical
magic …puppetry that has to be seen to be believed’.


These extraordinary equine puppets created by Handspring, in some
extent, even alive than real horses. As New York Times saying,
‘ Nothing can replicate the specific thrill of watching Joey take on
substance and soul before our eyes ’. It is a ‘Pure animal magic’
(commend by daily mail) and ‘Even Equus pales in comparison with
the dazzling puppet design’ (commend by Guardian). However, why
we choose to believe it even we know it is just a puppet? As a
audience, i moved by the puppet is not only for it greatly simulating the
feature of the real horse, but also it express the best in the horse that
even the real one, might not do it well.


Lecture  of magic puppetry


With full of curiosity , i attend the lecture which is sharing some secrets
and techniques of ‘War Horse’ with audiences. As the action director
explained , one of key movement to bring the puppet into alive is
breathing as it is the key point for people to identify life. However, it is
also important to observe those slight movements and other details in
that animal before doing the puppet. In terms of horse, ear moving is
quite important as horse having a sensitive hearing that could express
its emotion. For example, when they point right back, that means there
is something dangerous. When the horse walking, there is a special
tempo that three controller should collaborate closely. Besides,the
sound of the horse is produced on live by three controllers as well. All
these details tells the audience the horse is alive even we could not
aware of them most of the time. As the commend by Independent,
there is ‘A superlative sense of emotional depth in the puppet that
could achieve a rapt hold on audiences.’

It is so genius to create this realistic, vivid puppetry. There is a soul
inside each puppet, like a powerful magic and I really expect to use
this magic in the future. Theatre is a imaginative place to surprise the
audiences. Thus, it is the responsibility and opportunity for designer to
keep stimulating imagination and creating magic in theatre.

Play Review: A Dream Like a Dream

January 19, 2016 in review, unit1

‘A Dream Like a Dream’ is a drama production written and directed
by Stan Lai ( director and playwright) ,and produced by Magnificent
Culture, a performance workshop in Taiwan.

Different from traditional experience of theatre, in this play, you will
experience a time travel in different spaces, based on someone’s
life, and you might not recognise which one is dream and which
one is real. The concept of the story came from the life philosophy
of Zen which is related to my research area, the timelessness
concept. there is a big challenge to visualise such a abstract
concept in theatre, however, it did achieve both artistic and
academic height. Thus, not only did the production provide me the
developed thoughts of timeless concept, but also provide me the
practical approaches.



It is the first time for me to see a drama production in such a
massive, complicated plot structure and stage structure. This
experience stimulates me to think about the wide possibility and
potential in stage. Especially, how to impact audience feeling about
time and space through transaction design. This play, which places
the audience in the center of the action, with scenes unfolding all
around. It is like watching 4 stages surrounding you at the same
time. The other interesting thing is the seat could revolve in 360°
that means audience could change the view to adapt the
performance. Theatre design, in some extent, is not only about
creation, but practical solution to meet the need of the story.



As i mentioned before, the play also successful in showing the idea
of Zen. However, some said, ‘Such richness is rare except in a
work of great scope and depth … that may baffle many an ordinary
viewer’ commends by China Daily (April 13, 2013). I still
appreciated the ambition of the director that challenge such a
theme of depth in theatre. In the culture of Zen, there is
reincarnation in life like a circle. There will be a new life after the
present life. You might not have the memory of past live except you
have a strong wish. The memory will be presented as dream in your
present life that you might not perceive whether is real or dream. As
the opening of the play, ‘In a story, someone had a dream; in that
dream, someone told a story.’ the concept is remind me the film
‘inception’, but more than that, ‘ A Dream Like a Dream’, is a
complex web of extraordinary people transmigrating among
past ,present, and dream. It offers the audience a chance to feel
and wonder in others spiritual space on live .‘the work is so dense
in texture, so exalted in wisdom, it demands absolute
surrender.(China Daily , April 13, 2013)’.


Thus, as a audience, you will immerse in both the content

of the story and space of the theatre, and leave a lasting

impact in this production.

Exhibition Review: Ai weiwei at Royal Academic of Arts

January 19, 2016 in review, unit1

Ai weiwei is one of China’s most recognisable and contentious artists,

as his works famous as his outspoken criticism to Chinese government.

Some say Ai’s fame as political dissident overshadowed his artistic

practice. The other said it is just a strategy for drawing greater attention.

Even The Global Times, a State sanctioned newspaper, advised Ai to

moderate the relationship between art and politics in his work. But he

argues, ‘ you have to use your own experience to tell a story… and it is

not possible to separate art and politics in China.’


I agree with Ai as i grew up in China as well. The works in this exhibition

representing a powerful and coherent exploration of Chinese culture,

history and materials, alongside with connotation of cultural destruction,

have recalled me the memory of Chinese identity. To some extent, his

works could be seen as exploring a timeless form of art that offer me a

profound thinking to my research area.


All of his installations are ranged in series and separated in different spaces

in the exhibition. The furniture series which is one of the attractive series

of me. They all transformed by the wreckage of historic buildings and

antiques. Some will describe it as innovations or replacements to ancient arts.


However, modern art is not only about creativity. It even could not replace

or remove any culture or history. For me, his works reflect the nature of

civilisation in a very honest way. For example,‘ Table and pillar ’ , which

was reconstructed by materials of dismantled temple of the Qing Dynasty

(1644–1911), though he used exact materials and wood techniques of

ancient time,  it is completely a new artwork without original meaning.

As he said ‘ You know an old temple was beautiful and beautifully built…

But once it has been destroyed, it’s nothing.’ he tend to call attention to

both Chinese culture and history of craftsmanship. We could see this idea

strongly in the work ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’ . His act challenged

the tradition and heritage as he let a historic valuable urn drop from his

hands.  What he would like to connotate is Chinese cultural revolution

have caused a big tragedy in culture. However, government in China still

ignores culture destruction and towards a highly industrialised and modern

society. Thus, he would like to cause public concern to the relationships

between Chinese history and its society today, and between power and destruction.


Self expression is the other precious thing in his works. When we see

his works, we could substantially experience what in his mind.The

work ‘Straight’ is a really good example. This is a big steel-made installation inspired by Sichun earthquake in 2008. I was so

impressive and moved by he collecting the steel bars from collapsed

schools and restoring these bars into this memorial work.  The work

presents in a big-wave shape implied the earthquake, and each of the

bar arranges in order implied every lost life in the disaster. There are

two walls around this work, with thousands of name of lost students,

which are collected by Ai and volunteers as well. As he said, ‘This

investigation will be remembered for generations as the first civil rights

activity in China. So, to me, that is art. It directly affects people’s feelings

and their living conditions, their freedom and how they look at the world’.

This work based on conscience of artist, has built a relationship between

past and presence which could leave a lasting impact to viewers.


With full of respect to culture and history, human nature and freedom, Ai

Weiwei presents a series of timeless works that allude the same topic which is,

to evoke the old materials and stories behind them, and to provoke thought of

culture. It inspired me a lot  in considering what is timeless art in theoretical

level. From my opinion, timeless art is about self- expression which is to explore

the meaning behind life, and value of culture from your own perspective, and to

build a relationship between past and presence. As Ai said,‘The art always wins.

Anything can happen to me, but the art will stay.’

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