Monday, May 25, 2015

The space race

How big is big? Colin McCahon’s Gate III painting in Victoria Univeristy's collection is big at 3.5 x 10.7 meters. But in New Zealand terms so is Steele and Goldie’s The arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand at 1.8 x 2.8 meters. Of course McCahon's work was made for an exhibition titled Ten big paintings (there were also monsters by Hotere, Driver, Hanly and Ellis) and the Steele and Goldie effort is tiny compared to the GĂ©ricault painting it is based on, The raft of the Medusa that comes in at 4.91 x 7.16 meters. 

So to walk into Katharina Grosse's latest exhibition in Berlin and find six paintings in the 4 x 8 meter range, you can understand it was a very large space. Like many of the large exhibition spaces opening now it was part of a commercial enterprise, not a public one. This time Galerie Johann Koenig is responsible with a major redevelopment of St Agnes Church. 

As if that weren't enough scaling up for one weekend, we'd just come from the recently opened KINDL - Centre for Contemporary Art. In what had been the 20 meter high distillery room of a huge brewery, the Swiss artist Roman Signer had suspended a full sized airplane and made it lazily rotate with the help of two large industrial fans. Little wonder all this largess made a big impression.
Images: left Katharina Grosse at Koenig and right Roman Signer at KINDL