Richard Long Pre-Preview

Richard Long
Richard Long

I felt very special going to the Richard Long Pre-Preview at The New Art Gallery Walsall. The Exhibition Spaces and The Fourth Floor now have Richard Long installations and images which are really cool.

Africa Footprints 1986 by Richard Long born 1945 (Copyright Tate)
Africa Footprints 1986 by Richard Long born 1945 (Copyright Tate)

His big installation is very playful – The walls are painted black and white diagonal steps. The artist has basically taken mud (from his home) and brought it to the gallery and smeared it all over the black wall. The spatter from the mud skips down the white part of the wall. He mentioned how the painting is an autobiography of himself, his gestures and that was evident in the way the marks were very similar because the way he moves is the way he moves – his physical signature.

There is another mud painting which was, ‘made for a contemporary art exhibition and auction sale in aid of African famine victims. The project was called ‘New Art New World.’ This piece makes me imagine Richard Long physically getting his feet all muddy and making the shape of Africa on a piece of paper. The action of that is very playful.

I went to see an Tim Johnson exhibition at the IKON a few months back and a painting called ‘Walk On’ (see the Image below) includes the footprints of Tim Johnson’s children like they’ve just walked all over the canvas. I really want to do that – I may have to do that soon!

Tim Johnson and Nava Chapman, 'Walk On', 2009, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 150 x 180 cm
Tim Johnson and Nava Chapman, ‘Walk On’, 2009, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 150 x 180 cm

 

The main ideas behind Richard Long’s work are about wayfaring and being in the moment. He also said that, when his works are photographed the isolation of the place and the fact that it might be 20 years ago or thousands of miles away is interesting. His work is made in isolation and then, if it’s good enough, he shares it. And even after a thousand years have past, the rocks he uses in his Artwork might still be there, even if they are no longer considered to be Art.

In relation to his Textworks, Long mentioned that he goes on walks and there is some work he does which involves looking at things – for e.g. he notes down the first time he sees a fox or an owl. He has then returned to that place and seen how the walk is different than before. I will try and find the link for a journal I read called ‘Lines’ which discussed Wayfaring which I think might relate to this. He also mentions how he had always wanted to be an Artist. Even when he wanted to be an Ornithologist (when he was young) the way he communicated that was through pictures of birds.

One last thought is that I thought it was funny that he said that Tribesmen would come up to him and look at what he was doing but not be very interested because they might not realise he was “making Art.” I thought it was interesting, for lack of a better word, to think about what they would consider Art to be and why it would be attractive to them, from a different cultural perspective.

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