Modern Art Oxford presents the second exhibition in KALEIDOSCOPE, the Gallery’s year-long programme of unfolding exhibitions to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The second show in the gallery’s programme, ‘A Moment of Grace’ takes its title from an observation by German artist Gustav Metzger – founder of the Auto-Destructive art movement in the 1960s – that “every step in nature is a moment of grace”.
The latest anniversary exhibition features works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Kevin Beasley, John Latham, Jac Leirner, David Maljkovic, Gustav Metzger, Gareth Nyandoro, Yoko Ono and Guan Xiao, and Open Music Archive. The highlight of which is the 90-year-old Metzger’s installation piece ‘Liquid Crystal Environment’ (1965); touted as having therapeutic properties, this might go some way to explaining the longevity of this artist’s practice.
Metzger’s psychedelic environment returns to Oxford having been shown as part of his retrospective exhibition at the gallery in 1998. The work is understandably a slightly ‘Kubrickian’ journey’, an immersive experience for the viewer, as light is projected through glass slides filled with heat-sensitive liquid crystals. the crystals shift and evolve with a kaleidoscopic hallucinatory vibration, reminding the viewer of the decade in which the work was created. Metzger has influenced many a contemporary artist, the work instantly reminded one of Pipilotti Rist’s ‘Worry Will Vanish’ (2014), a fully immersive, and sensory video environment, Projected against two walls, angled so that the viewer feels as if they are ‘entering’ the work, creating patterns by manipulating corporeal images that periodically overlap with close-up fragments.
Image: Gustav Metzger, Liquid Crystal Environment, 165-66/1998. A Moment of Grace, Modern Art Oxford. Photo: P A Black © 2016.
The same principle exists in Metzger’s installation, except that the artist uses the nature of abstraction and basic kinetic processes. The kinetic aspect of the artist’s work adds an additional language element to Metzger’s installation – which can actually be viewed as a number of kinetic sculptures, created so that the viewer may study their micro processes in macro – enabling the viewer’s immersion into the work. The slides are really the work, undergoing recurrent kinetic transformation.
Whether installational or sculpturally kinetic in concept; Metzger blurs the boundaries between the self and the organic, and micro and macro landscapes, as the abstract crystalline images shift and remind the viewer of sections of MRI scans, electron microscopic forms, or the topography of landscapes, mesmeric and in perpetual change. The work continues the artist’s belief in the social experience of art; transformation and notions of the therapeutic. The viewer can experience a lunchtime of ‘altered states’, possibly a refreshing experience before re-entering their respective professional worlds.
Image: David Maljkovic, New Reproduction, 2015, A Moment of Grace, Modern Art Oxford. Photo: P A Black © 2016.
Croatian artist David Maljkovic explores contemporary visual media, layering his work to create a collage of visual languages. The artist becomes a kind of ‘Archaeological Richard Prince’ as Maljkovic shifts perspective ‘Re-crops’ and ‘Re-prints’, but with the ‘non-Princian’ principle of layering existing material appropriated from the artist’s own archive. The four sculptural works titled ‘New Reproductions’ subvert the language of advertising, the objects become ‘layered’ and ‘sandwiched’ like billboards welded together to form sculptural blocks, reminding the viewer of the evolution and layering of language, akin to stripping back the stratum of bill posters revealing a temporal devolution of visual vocabulary.
Artists: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Kevin Beasley, John Latham, Jac Leirner, David Maljkovic, Gustav Metzger, Gareth Nyandoro, Yoko Ono and Guan Xiao, and Open Music Archive.
About Modern Art Oxford:
The gallery was founded in 1966, Modern Art Oxford has an international reputation for ambitious and innovative projects, with all events completely free of charge, unless stated. The gallery aims to make contemporary art accessible and engaging to the widest audience through presentation and participation. The programme celebrates the relevance of contemporary visual culture to society today. Modern Art Oxford has an agenda shaped by a belief in dialogue between contemporary art and ideas, and seeks to create new relationships between artists and audiences at the beginning of the 21st century.
Lead image: Gustav Metzger, Liquid Crystal Environment, 165-66/1998. Sammlung Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst. Photo: FBM Studio, Zürich. © Gustav Metzger
Words: Paul Black. Photos: P A Black © 2016
KALEIDOSCOPE: Celebrating 50 Inspirational Years – A Moment of Grace – Modern Art Oxford – until 22 May 2016