Tag Archives: Freud

Brent Wadden, Alignment #53 (2015)

wadden

There’s a great warmth that comes from the ragged, woolly presence of Brent Wadden’s large (two by two and a half metres) woven work. You might even say its tactile qualities are cosy.

But the design is less comfortable: irregular, patched together in haste, an austere black and white. He doesn’t use much technology, but Wadden has borrowed the look of a glitchy piece of software.

Software and soft furnishings; weaving and, as has been often pointed out, coding. There is a correspondence between this ancient form of craft and the digital times we live in.

In the critical theory of weaving* we find this: “Freud believed weaving and plaiting to be the only technique ever invented by women (no small invention if it leads to computers).”

(Had Freud lived to see the arrival of abstract expressionism, he might have been agog to find, in thirtysomething Wadden, a male artist with such a feminine take on a macho genre.)

But as anyone could tell you, having seen the Viennese psychologist’s famous couch, Freud was not averse to making you comfy with a rug or two, a cushion or three.

There’s something about the welcome in his consulting room which finds an echo in the work under discussion. This dense piece of stitching allows the viewer to unravel a little.

Or at least to grow absorbed in the varying yarns and shades of the panels which make up the whole. This was at least as absorbing as a neurotic monologue about my mother might have been.

But unlikely as it seems, weaving is also widely political. Caroline Rooney’s theoretical essay on weaving also mentions The Statesman by Plato, where weaving is a metaphor for good government.

And so as s/he, “weaves the good and serviceable threads together to produce the unified, harmonious social fabric”, the ideal head of state is, of course, closer to a mill worker than a banker.

Brent Wadden: How Long is Now? can be seen at Pace, London, until 31 October 2015.

*Deconstruction and Weaving, Caroline Rooney, from Deconstructions: A User’s Guide, ed. Nicholas Royle

Photodiary: Franz West at The Hepworth Wakefield

This was my first visit to The Hepworth and I was blown away by a) the David Chipperfield building and b) the setting by the River Calder. Here’s a view from one to the other.

24 window

We were here for the biggest every show at the gallery and the UK’s first major survey of work by Franz West. The Austrian artist walks a thin line between the abject and the appealing.

24 sculptures west

Curators and directors took the brave move to show West alongside the presiding genius of this part of the world. His raw plaster heads might be said to belch and heckle the nearby Hepworths.

24 west sculpture2

This was my favourite piece in the show. It’s just a chair, you might point out, and not a very solid one. But I love the spirit of making do and improvisation. It’s a chair built from hearsay.

24 west chair

This below also tickled me. For reasons best known to the artist, the bottle is wearing a silver mac. Jokes, of the sort which fellow Viennese Freud might have chewed over, abound in this show.

24 west table

This wall mounted installation was called Personale (1995/7), a cluster of works by other artists. That is, I believe, French Shower by Jason Rhoade, but navigation was an issue.

24 wall

Beyond the television set you see a handful of West’s much acclaimed ‘adaptives’. Visitors are encouraged to pick these up and explore their weight and dimensions. Radical, huh?

24 adaptives

This was just one ingenious element in a much bigger installation with a title translating as pork chops. Like I say, West really does go in for Mitteleuropean drôlerie.

24 west tape scultuyre]

And below you can see Parrhesia (2010) a group of talking heads enjoying some ancient Greek democracy. But “I am a sculptor, not a hewer of ideas,” said West.

24 west parrhesia

So despite his extensive self-directed reading, Wittgenstein and, yes, Freud were not chief materials for this iconoclastic sculptor. Plaster and scrap, on the other hand, were.

In other words he only changed the face of modern sculpture by rolling up his sleeves. As a hopeful hewer of words, the more I think about this show, the better it gets.

Franz West: Where is my Eight? can be seen at The Hepworth Wakefield until 14 September 2014. Read my review on The Arts Desk.