Some Dimensions of my Night
Back for part 3 of the 4 part series, Some Dimensions of my Lunch: Conceptual Art in Britain (1956-1976), I was prepared for more of the tastefully bizarre and interesting work from an era when conceptual art was even more of a taboo than it is now. The exhibition focuses on artists John Blake ( whom I got to meet) and Tony Morgan who are known for their early conceptual photography.
Admittedly I didn't take as many photos at this private view as I usually do because it's hard to talk, drink, read a guide and take pictures at the same time. That being said, I will have to describe the evening as I am unable to show you everything. I met a lovely artist who made me promise to attend the opening night of his show next week, caught up with the gallery assistants and approached one of the exhibiting artists, John Blake.
I specifically asked John about his work, Skin II (1969-1970) as I couldn't figure out what the concept was. Aesthetically the work was intriguing; skin, pinching and missing photos. What was conceptual about it though? I didn't want to figure this one out myself when the artist was present and completely available to ask. He told me about his studies at the Royal Academy of Art and his first exhibition at the V&A as a 24 year old conceptual artist. His work wasn't received in the way that he would have liked. Despite the gruesome medieval works that were exhibited in the V&A at the time, people found John's work to be obscene and equated to drugs, rock & roll and David Hockney. As a result of the complaints, the curator for the show lost his job. Hard to imagine I was enjoying the same 'obscene' work 40 years later over a drink. Oh and there's a concept behind the missing photos- there are always three empty panels and two are added each time the work is exhibited. John assured me that conceptually this was sound.
I thanked John for talking to me so openly and entertaining my interview-style string of questions. The last time I spoke to an artist at his private view, he walked off mid sentence. Having only limited myself to two glasses of prosecco, I felt clear headed and less critical of the conceptual art movement as I realised the humanity behind capturing moments and portraying them in various ways.