Galleries - January 2010

11. GALLERIES JANUARY 10 TRIPLE VISION OBLIQUE VIEW With more than a nod to Darwin, Marcus Coates continues his mediation between the the nat- ural world and human experience at Newlyn Art Gallery until January 30. Two video pieces and a sound installation transform the bleak, silent interior into a ca- cophony of grunts, groans, bleeps and jungle noises that woo the senses into accepting Coates' fresh paradigm. It's a tantalizing, thought pro- voking world and he is both a supremely deft technician and an imaginative guide. Initially, as observer of the laborious and ultimately fruitless copulations of giant tortoises in their special pen on the Galapagos one is little more than a fascinated voyeur of a species so ancient and sub- limely ugly – somewhere between E.T. and a drooling dinosaur – that to find a link between them and us is almost an affront to the sensibilities. Move upstairs how- ever, watch the cavortings of our own species – children in a play- ground, supermarket checkout, bingo night – manipulated and cross-referenced by sounds that morph seamlessly from the mechanical/electronic to those of birdsong, whale and rutting deer, and one finds that we fit the picture perfectly. Viewed obli- quely, our world is as strange and marvellous as any 'Life on Earth'. Pip Palmer Marcus Coates ‘Intelligent Design’ video still, 2009 HOERENGRACHT Ed Kienholz’s work of the 60s and early 70s, with its visceral, mock- ing unmasking of the American dream in environmental instal- lation pieces like Roxy’s – named after a real brothel in Nevada, which drew you physically into that world with Hitchcock-like complicity and sense of physical repulsion, were seminal experi- ences of my youth. Shortly after, however, Kienholz’s work took on a radical shift of emphasis, his marriage to cre- ative collaborator Nancy Reddin Kienholz in 1972 and a sub- sequent shift towards working a substantial amount of time in Berlin changing the mood of the work radically, from one less of mockery towards something al- together more compassionate, even melancholy. The Hoerengracht (Whore’s Canal) 1983-88 , one of their last major installation pieces before Kienholz’s death in 1994, is a good case in point. Currently in- stalled with great imagination and style at the National Gallery , together with excellent contextual examples of artistic parallels with Dutch 17th Century painting, we walk down the street of whore’s booths as voyeurs, being forced to ask more questions of our- selves and our attitudes than of the trapped beings within their tiny sordid rooms. Nicholas Usherwood Willem Ven de Velde the Younger ‘A Rising Gale’, c. 1672, courtesy of Toledo Museum Edward & Nancy Reddin Kienholz ‘The Hoerengracht’, (detail), ©Kienholz Estate, courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA MASTER'S VOICE ‘Turner and the Masters’ at Tate Britain is the most moving and wonderful of exhibitions, though not perhaps entirely for the reas- ons that might at first be supp- osed. For it is in truth rather less about Turner setting himself up in the grand European tradition and rather more to do with the com- pulsive, inward, painter’s journey he felt impelled to make in order to find his own distinctive voice within it. Through this he was able to realise his profoundly intuitive sense of the dramatically chang- ing spiritual and intellectual clim- ate of the era in which he was living and working. These were revolutionary times in every sense of the word and Turner’s extra- ordinary genius was to fight his way through the huge weight of his-torical and contemporary trad-ition in order to find a way of painting that would truly embody his visionary sense of the ‘mod- ern’ moment. It meant, in the process, a cer- tain amount of distinctly lab- oured painting – the attempts on Titian, Watteau and Rubens in this exhibition are notable examples – but always you sense he is learn- ing something. And then the sun comes out, both literally and metaphorically, and the world dissolves into a cloud of coloured particles . . . Blake Hall