LONDON – The last time I went to the Tate Modern I was on a date with an American guy named Aaron. We had been encouraged to get together again (we went for breakfast once before in Arizona) by our happily married mutual friends and as I didn’t know anyone at the time, being new to London as I was, I decided to go for it. Looking back, it was another lacklustre date and sorry to say, my friend was twice disappointed that we didn’t hit it off. He sort of had a ‘California surfer dude’ way about him (including long hair) and that’s never been a selling point for me. At one time during the date, he even came across as untoward.
“So do you like coming to galleries?” I asked as we strolled through the different rooms. “Do you really want to know or are you just trying to make conversation?” was his quick reply! “I’d like to know,” I said rather surprised at his question. Aren’t you supposed to ask questions on a date? Anyway, we actually went to lunch afterwards and he even paid! We’ve never seen or spoken to each other since and when I got a new phone I didn’t input his details. I saw my friend, Jennica, about a year ago and she asked me to give it one last chance, but I told her that I didn’t even think he liked me as a person, never mind as a possible girlfriend. Hmmm….
So that was my last experience at the Tate Modern.
I headed there again today and it was a much better experience, although the howling wind did prove a challenge. At one point it was so strong it was knocking down construction signs and almost lifting my feet off the ground. I just laughed because it was sort of funny and crazy. Oh, and the entire walk from St. Paul’s tube stop across Millennium Bridge to the gallery was a wet one and only when I entered the Tate and looked in my handbag did I see that I had actually brought along an umbrella. I was so soaked as I walked from floor to floor…
I should probably let you know that I’m not trained in art history or art appreciation. I often don’t know what I like at all. I don’t know why. Sometimes I feel that you’re supposed to understand art on a much deeper level and to be honest, that’s never happened for me. I’ve always sort of either liked or disliked a painting simply for its appearance and aesthetics.
Today I browsed through many wings of the gallery and there were some paintings that I really liked and would want to take home with me, like this one by British artist Meredith Frampton.
Another one that I can’t stop thinking about is by Korean born artist, Lee Ufan.
It’s so simple, but striking and I kept thinking about how he managed to create those brush strokes. Apparently he painted long downward lines until the paint on the brush was used up. He then returned to the top and repeated the method. He must have a very steady hand. I struggle just to pain my nails.
Apparently this next one by Francis Picabia actually caused a stir in France! What you see below is not the original (that was a technical drawing of a turbine break); it was apparently painted over and the addition of the vine/fig leaf is a reference to censorship.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Picasso, the Tate Modern has a few, is that he looooooves breasts and vaginas and the female form.
I did however find one painting of a male nude by Barkley Hendricks that included a full frontal and some nice tiles. Have you noticed how a trip to the art gallery always includes a few female nudes? It’s such an art cliché.
Of course, as it is modern art, there was plenty of the absurd on display, like this one by Joseph Beuys.
According to the gallery, the accumulator, a sort of rechargeable battery, is attached by wires to two clay balls, as if drawing power from the earth. For Beuys, the production and storage of energy is a metaphor for the creative and spiritual energy that he wanted to foster in the individual viewer and society as a whole. My thoughts exactly.
And then there was this one by Francis Picabia called ‘Portrait of a Doctor’ who is surrounded by sexually aggressive hanging balls…
But I was also touched by this depiction of the Vietnam War by Leon Golub.
It’s interesting how a gallery can capture so much about our lives and interests.
The Tate Modern is definitely worth a visit. It’s mostly free but some exhibits will cost and they’re close to £20 so a little steep. But you can still go and have a good experience just taking in all the free stuff. One criticism I do have is that there was a room that was labelled as having ‘adult material’ but there was no one manning the door. I saw plenty of young children running around the gallery on a field trip and if you’re going to try to bring in such young students, then you need to take responsibility for all the content inside.