Saturday, September 20, 2014
Melissa Coote at Jensen Gallery - 20 September
Only just made this show which finished on Saturday. I had been trying to cajole one of the junior critics to come down the road with me to no avail. So, under the pretext of delivering birthday party invitations for one of the junior critics I set off to Jensen Gallery and just made it in before closing. And luckily I did because this was one great show.
Hearts are dear to my heart! My old man is/was a heart specialist and courtesy of my childhood memories I can still vividly see medical models of hearts that he used to have lying about his office. So Melissa's works all hit the right note for me. They were big canvasses, small editions on paper and lots of bronze sculptures. Melissa had used sheep hearts (the little ones) and bull hearts (the big ones) as the basis for works. Confusingly, they were all titled variants of Heart. The sculptures used letters and numbers (e.g. Heart B and Heart 4) whereas the works on the wall used roman numerals (e.g. Heart IV). Now even luckier for me was the fact that invigilating on this slow Saturday was arts writer Chloe Wolifson. Conveniently, Chloe had written the profile in the arts collector magazine on Melissa so she was a font of knowledge. Then, Melissa decides to pop into the gallery herself and I am treated to a one-on-one artist chat about technique and all sorts of things. Even better, when discussing the patina effect to make the black heart (it uses acid and then some polish) Chloe pulled another sheep's heart out of the drawer in a 'here's one we made earlier' type move and I got to feel it snug in my palm. After that it was all on for touchy feely time and I picked up quite a few of them to inspect for heft. All very impressive stuff. It really is something special when you can make a relatively modest work in terms of size and for it to have such an impact. The subject, the detail, the weight, the material all worked together beautifully. The paintings were also impressive. Not only due to their oversize scale but also the amount of 3D detail in their creation which you miss in the pics, lots of layering and scraping away in their drafting apparently. It was such a cohesive show and one that will stick with me for a while. Inspiring.
Points: I quite liked the large heart drawings but for mine the stars were the sculptures. I'm really torn between the two sizes and the two finishes. I am leaning towards shiny and so the only question is will the bull or the sheep take the blue ribbon? I am actually going to go small and give the 3 points to the bronze sheeps heart (pictured above). Great work and fits in your hand perfectly. The bronze bull heart will take the 2 points and one of the patina finish black hearts will take the 1, the sheep again had it for me.