Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Artist as Social Scientist

Any exhibition which has to follow Kusama Yayoi's at the Museo Tamayo is going to be up against it. So from public friendly dots and kookiness to Stephen Willat's social-science-cum-cybernetic oeuvre is going to test the loyalty of their audience, not to say the imagination of their marketing department. 
Willats has been quietly working way in an area where art meets learning theory, systems research and social mapping for over 50 years. It is as much to do with process as the finished product - his ongoing work with residents of public housing estates being a good example - although many of the works that line the walls of the gallery here are beautiful, in a graphic design and repetition-as-a form-of-change kind of way. And you can find them (if you look hard enough) in the collections of the Tate, National Portrait Gallery and others. An intriguing, if somewhat challenging, exhibition.

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