Thursday, July 16, 2015

Figures of Fun?

One of these people is real
A day out in three of London's parks with the girls and cousin Thomas. Holland Park is actually not one of London's best, but we had errands in its vicinity and we like its Japanese garden and cafe, but the big grass area in the southern half was taken over by a school sports day. Better is Kensington Gardens where we strolled past the Palace, the Big Pond and through semi-wild woods in which it was hard to imagine we were still in the heart of London. I'm never too sure where KG ends and Hyde Park begins but in any case we ended up at the Serpentine Gallery where we met up with Melanie and her son Johannes (Austrian friends from our Tokyo days) and checked out this year's pavilion by Spanish architectural practice, SelgasCano (which was superficially colourful and intriguing but ultimately an inferior version of one of Architects of Air's luminaria). 
Far better was a long-overdue Duane Hanson exhibition at the Serpentine's new Sackler Gallery across the bridge. Hanson was a US artist who made incredibly lifelike sculptures of people on the edge of society - ordinary, overlooked, overweight American manual labourers, pensioners and so on. I've seen his work overseas but never in Britain, perhaps because curators and critics have trouble defining the difference between his work and that of, say, Madame Tussauds (and, by the way, Hanson's figures are much more lifelike, both in terms of their actual appearance and because they are not celebrities). Ron Mueck's work has been similarly dismissed, although his of course are much larger than life. It's interesting that our first instinct is to laugh at them which is kind of understandable, and yet there is actually an immense sadness about them.

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