Monday, 12 January 2009

Review - New Art Gallery Walsall

I visited The New Art Gallery in Walsall recently, which holds a really impressive collection in a great space. Road signage is good and parking in the town is easy (pay & display).

The gallery holds the Garman Ryan Collection - given
to Walsall in 1972 by Kathleen Garman, Jacob Epstein's wife. It includes work by Van Gogh, Lucien Freud and Picasso. Until 14th October contemporary artists' work has been added alongside in the 'Fresh Out of the Box '- exhibition with Martin Creed, Christopher Le Brun, Marc Quinn, Gavin Turk, Hew Locke and Catherine Yass, amongst others. The whole exhibition was well-curated and the additions to the standing collection were sensitively placed to enhance but not intrude.

The top floor held an exhibition (until 25th January) of 'Outsiders' art- those artists working outside the mainstream. 'Post-graffiti' art is the description in the gallery guide. Conor Harrington's vast mural work painted onto the gallery wall is monumental in scale and questions the spurious nature of men's power. The transience of the work makes you consider your own attitude to work - why you make it, what you do with it once it is finished, ownership in general and the overblown value of much art in the market today. What happens to it at the end of the exhibition, is it painted over? Street Art is by definition left behind for the public to admire or tut at, depending on your standpoint. Selfish or selfless? And what does it become as it moves into the mainstream and gallery space and no longer 'Outsider'?

(Link below to Conor Harrington website. Try Google search for his blog - it does not appear accessible through his website.)

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