Monday, 29 October 2007

Matthew Barney, Drawing Restraint, Serpentine

Matthew Barney is a fawn but as well as that he’s a 2nd renaissance man, delving into the mediums of film, video, installations, sculpture, photography, drawing and performance art. I went to see his exhibition ‘Drawing Restraint’ at the Serpentine this weekend, mainly due to it being a nice day and the Serpentine’s free to boot.

I had no idea who Matthew Barney was other than he had some romantic connection to Icelandic, cyber, snow queen, Björk. I’d unwitteningly come across Barney before, on the cover of my girlfriend’s modern art book, looking like you’d imagine the devil might, if he were a metrosexual. The image was unsettlingly and if the book were left out in the open I’d do my best to ignore it.

Within the exhibition you can’t swing a hoof without hitting fawns galore. Photographs capturing a Greco-roman (or for the rest of you, WWF) type match, between two such mythical creatures are everywhere.

From what I gathered Barney spent a lot of time on a Japanese whaling boat. Apart from showing off his artistic skill, hanging off said boat and still managing to churn out some very good sketches, he must have seen the process of whale hunting in all its unpleasantness.

The installation pieces are large intimidating things, like the deck of a large vessel. He’s recreated the whaling deck covered in pristine white wax, harpoons and all. In another piece it looks like an unfortunate whale has just been carved up, large slabs of animal fat are rolled out like rotten garden lawns. It’s a great exhibit and highlights what someone with natural talent can achieve when they’re twisted mind is allowed to play with an assortment of materials. Just don’t tell Moby Dick.

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