Saturday, 4 April 2015

At the Centre Georges Pompidou

Pic of the inside of 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

Jeff Koons

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. 

Pic of Incredible Hulk, Dog and Monkey picture
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.

Hervé Télémaque

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? 

Pic of Faces crying out and up to the sky

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.

Karen Andrews runs
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