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Saturday, 4 April 2015
At the Centre Georges Pompidou
Inside the Centre Georges Pompidou
"Where on earth?" That was my thought when I visited
the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris for the first time. I had never seen anything
like such architecture before. I still remember how the external pipework and
escalators fascinated me as a young teenager.
When I revisited on 21st March, the enormous building still
looked very innovative. Its visitor numbers and the very long ticket queues
suggest that Beaubourg has retained its power of innovation and popularity. The contents on the inside took me
by surprise this time.
Jeff Koons' Magenta Balloon Dog
I visited the modern art collection of the
American Jeff Koons. Although much of it was pleasing to the eye, I am afraid
that I found the majority somewhat shallow. I didn't really know what to make
of the brightly-coloured and overgrown balloon sculptures. The Incredible Hulk,
Popeye, a huge red lobster, etc all left me cold.
Jeff Koons' exhibition at Centre Georges Pompidou
It all seemed too superficial
to me. The explanatory blurbs generally seemed too contrived for my taste.
Maybe they was some criticism of the modern commercial world and its
fascination with how things look? The gold figures of Michael Jackson and his
pet monkey might confirm this.
I much preferred the artworks in other galleries. For
example, the ones that offered some historical comment or reflection on the
current state of the world - e.g. racism depicted in the work of French Haitian-born
artist Hervé Télémaque.
Artist as archivist
There was a simple mound of white square blocks in one room.
Some bore Arabic script. Some in Latin Script bore simple historical date information.
I understood this to be a pile of grievances built up over centuries in the
Middle East. The blocks could topple over at any time.
In the corridor outside were the two large works that had
the greatest effect upon me. One was a painting. The faces seemed Far Eastern
in origin. All were crying out looking at the sky. The colours were very bold -
yellow, orange and red. What imminent disaster could they see in the sky? Global
warming? A nuclear explosion? Armageddon of some sort?
On the opposite side, there were shelves full of world
globes. Each globe looked very swollen as if nursing large wounds. The wounds
were taped over. Over and over again. Pinned to the shelves were pictures of major
incidents. They looked Middle Eastern in origin - the scars and after-effects
of fires and bombed-out buses.
The American artist's balloons seem
all the more superficial and detached from real life.
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