Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giacometti in NC

Made a little Thanksgiving trip to Charlotte, NC to check out the city and to visit some of the art venues.  One of my stops was the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art to see their exhibition "Giacometti: Memory and Presence"on view until February 8.  Comprising the entire fourth floor, the show highlights their considerable collection of his work, as well as loans from Zurich and Paris.  Considering the most Giacometti I have seen in a day has been 3-4 pieces, the 60+ works on display were easily worth the pilgrimage from Pembroke.  I've always enjoyed his work, and reproductions of his paintings were always particularly comforting to me as a student in contextualizing my own process.

Simply, Giacometti was reluctant to finish a painting, often working over the same face for many days. (A excellent account of his process and thoughts on art is described by James Lord in A Giacometti Portrait.) Giacometti's paintings reveal a deeply scarred surface of countless layers that evidence the intensity his of investigation. They evoke a strong presence and are objects as much as image.  We are left with the mystery of what is under the final layers.  In art classes we often stress achieving clarity of communication, but Giacometti reminds us that ambivalence and uncertainty can also be evoked, and remain a powerful aspect of the human condition.