10 August 2008

Jan De Cock / Francois Morellet

Earlier this year I was at the MoMA in New York for the first time. I was there with my friend Ruvan and we were rather taken with an installation exhibiting the work of the young Belgian-born artist, Jan De Cock, curated by Roxana Marcoci and titled Denkmal 11.
Not only is De Cock's photography exquisite, the mode of display was truly revelatory. Boxy plywood sculptures, reflective glass, plus a range of print-sizes (miniscule to massive) and hanging-heights (some were hung just inches from the floor), gave the exhibition a level of depth often missing from photographic exhibitions.
The (site-specific) presentation of the work became part of the work itself, which I think is the ingredient needed to bring an exhibition to the upper echelons of success. The photographs seem simple and uneventful, using obscure angles and light, but the precision and clever composition renders the obscurities fascinating and inexplicably beautiful. This is only heightened by the unconventional way in which they are exhibited. It was a truly inspirational show.



Later in the day we found ourselves in the rooms of Color Chart, a mind-spinning rainbow of eye-trickery and colour blocks, curated by Ann Temkin. I was blown away by the feeling of brightness and the meticulous way these works were produced.
One artist in particular took my fancy, the Frenchman Francois Morellet. His painting Random Distribution of 40,000 Squares Using the Odd and Even Numbers of a Telephone Directory is self-explanatory. He literally went through a phone-book and each time there was an odd number painted a blue square and each time there was an even number painted a red square - or vice versa. The work is amazing, it draws you into this trance-like state. I just stared at it for ages, thinking about the process, the commitment, the discipline, such a work would take.
The exhibition was made up of many works in which process was almost more important than product - the process, in fact, was the art. I like this idea.
On my way out, I bought a print of Morellet's work. Then I met friends at Angelica Kitchen for dinner. I remember their being a little surprised that I'd chosen this particular painting of all those on offer, but I told them what Morellet's painting meant to me not only in terms of his process, but also my own process that day. Now when I look at it I don't think of the painting, I think of the process, the commitment and the amazing experience I had at the MoMA.

There is so much more to art than just the product.

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