Had a fantastic day on Sunday. Went to see the Paul Klee show at the Hayward and then took in Coppola’s “The Conversation” - yes Billy, I did spot the changed inflection ;-)
Those who know me are familiar with my Bauhaus obsession and so won’t be surprised by my enjoying the Klee show. I must say - if you live in London you really should make a point of catching it. It closes April 1, so hurry.
You’ll get that familiar oh-no-not-another-enormous-Bracque-and-Picasso-show feeling as you enter the first gallery, but if you make it past there you’ll be richly rewarded.
This type of expo is often styled a retrospective - the first few walls have exciting work produced by the artist when at school, generally accompanied by a black and white photograph of the artist as a boy on summer hols with his parents (the Michael Andrews show at the Tate was a classic of the genre) and the show labouriously plods on through the man’s life, invariable ending with the ‘pensive’ works of the twilight years.
The Klee show isn’t like that. It was curated by an artist (Bridget Riley - did I spell that right?) and the work is arranged by mood, by issue, by belief. Instead of a history lesson, we get a satisfying burst of intellectual stimulation.
Was Klee religious? I don’t know (Nicki bought his diaries, so perhaps I’ll know soon) but a lot of the work feels like a look at the meaning of life (ok, no Python jokes please). He suggests the ‘cycle’ of life, from birth to decomposition and the cycle of digestion from mouth to toilet in the same drawing. He looks at energy, potential, relationships, limits and boundaries, and explores in detail (well, for me - I don’t know enough about his Bauhaus course to know if the idea is his) the idea of a universal graphic language.
The work warms my humanist heart. The bulk of the collection starts in the post WWI (lots of “W” in world war eh George?) years and I have to believe that if you survived the carnage of 14-18 you’d be interested in life. Even though the work feels quite ‘religious’ it’s non-sectarian and there seems to be a lot of anti-racist energy it (anti-fascist before its time?).
Anyway, sorry about the rambling post. I just wanted to say that I came out of the Hayward both very elated and very confused, with more questions than answers, but happy that there is still a little room for the intellect in this (war-on-terror filled) world.
So we went from the Hayward (which closed earlier than we thought) downstairs to the NFT - what a combination, “The Conversation” is about mankind reduced to an empty shell. Pretty much as far apart from Klee’s work as possible. Well worth seeing, Gene Hackman plays the part that inspired his role in “Enemy of the State” (Brillo?) and is so convincing I came away feeling sick…
Ahh, it’s good to remind one’s self why we put up with high rent and poor tubes just to live in the city :-)