Monday, 31 October 2016

The Big Draw at the Hastings Arts Forum

I missed the Big Draw which is a shame. I came into the Hastings Arts Forum this morning and got to see the last few pieces from the Big Draw before they were all taken down and packed away. I really wish I had seen more now - they are colourful, spontaneous and fun but also connected to the serious realities of the present. This is all that remained hanging up today so just a few pictures I'm afraid.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Roberto Landin Solo at the Hastings Art Forum

Unusually for the Hastings Art Forum, the next two weeks will feature just one artist in the whole two-gallery space. It is not easy for a single artist to fill up this much space with consistently good or interesting work, especially at short notice, so what Roberto Landin has achieved here is really quite spectacular.

Gallery One is hung with large paintings that use simple and harmonious spectrums often containing metallic hues to reflect the light in the room. The paintings are the newest works of Roberto Landin and four of them were made especially for this Hastings Art Forum show.

They are accompanied by a totem of brightly coloured ceramic skulls that complement the use of colour in the room. A smaller totem of green seems to form a single piece with the painting behind it, while shiny, white skulls, cones and other decorative ceramics, beautifully glazed or part-glazed, sit almost in piles on ascending plinths.    

This gallery is a showcase for the artist’s colour sensitivity in paint and for his skill as a ceramicist. The combination of colours, objects and shapes and the way in which they are arranged has left nothing to chance and it looks fantastic.

From the seamless arrangement of Gallery One you step into the equally seamless Gallery Two. The room is made dark by blackout curtains and is lit entirely by hanging and sculptural light installations that cast a delicate, subterranean neon glow. Entering this room you encounter four massive sculptures of human bodies that are very far from the idealised and unrealistic norm. All are beautifully lit and their equally massive shadows rise majestically up to the ceiling above.

This room is composed of earlier works. The oldest is a huge canvas of two figures, one with a protruding tongue, painted over the pages of a bible. The tongue is a motif that recurs in several different forms including an intimate video installation viewed in soft orange focus through a perspex box. It also features in two mirrored works - one contains a circle of sacred hearts, tongues and organs fused into one object, while the other has two rows of disembodied tongues chattering into infinity.  

This gallery has an element of circus sideshow in which the audience comes to see a spectacle, possibly something grotesque, that reaffirms perceptions of their own normality. However, as soon as they step inside they are part of the show and the boundary between what is perceived as normal and what is not ceases to exist. Such merging of art and audience is underlined by the fact that Roberto Landin is also a performance artist and there are two performances scheduled.

The first will be a meditation on sound in which the audience is asked to understand sound as something physically felt rather than heard. This will explore how the body resonates with sound and how that connects to the emotional catharsis often associated with music. Performance times are is 12pm to 4pm on Saturday October 8th.

The second will be a meditation on gender. The artist will appear androgynous and will sit facing an empty chair. Members of the audience can sit opposite the artist for as long as they wish. No words will be exchanged. The point is to feel and reflect on what you have seen using the artist’s performance persona as a projection board for your own response.This will take place from 12pm – 4pm on the following Saturday October 15th. 

What is contained in the two galleries is pretty much the entire creative output of Roberto Landin since 2010, which gives the show the feel of a small retrospective. However, it also reflects a very contemporary artistic practise. This is not an exhibition so much as a complete artist environment which makes it as contemporary as it gets. It is something for the visitor to experience rather than to view and has the potential to transform, particularly in the context of the performances. It may also transform some perceptions of what art can or should be. Not one to miss. 

Roberto Landin 
From Light to Dark
4th October – 16th October

Private View:  Friday 7th October - 6.30 - 8.30pm