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Resistance and Persistence
28 November 2015 until 30 January 2016
Resistance and Persistence’ takes its title from Sean Scully’s essay on the mid 20th century Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. Morandi is a contradictory artist: deliberately understated yet deeply engaging; always small of scale and yet somehow heroic.
Scully describes his encounter with a particular Morandi painting in the collection of Tate London: “When I was a student passing through the halls of the Tate Gallery in London, looking for role models, I would consistently pass a typically small painting by Morandi. It seemed to upset and disturb everything else that was going on. It was as if it was participating in the Modernist dialogue, since its spirit was twentieth-century, and clearly painted after the discovery of abstraction, but, then again, stubbornly refusing to participate with appropriate enthusiasm… One day I’d see it and I’d think, this is great. It’s really weird. And then another day I’d see it and I’d think to myself that he was an idiot. And so was the Tate for putting it up all the time. And then another day I’d see it, and I just didn’t know what to think. It wasn’t exciting, yet it was exciting. Exciting in its resistance, in its subversiveness.”
These qualities provide the starting point for an exhibition that considers the idea of artistic positions that have been hard won. At its heart are a group of wonderful Morandi paintings, two of which haven’t been seen in public for
over 50 years. Alongside these are works by a diverse group of artists, but with a connectedness in that they all tend to work in series, with one work building on the last, often against the grain of the time and place in which they have found themselves. There’s a stubbornness to this, perhaps, a sense of the single-minded pursuit, but there’s also a leaning towards emotional engagement, and therefore a kind of intimacy.
In ‘Resistance and Persistence’, Morandi’s paintings will be joined by an early film by Richard Serra, photographs by Francesca Woodman and Cy Twombly; drawings by Richard Forster; sculptural works by Richard Long, Rachel Whiteread and Roger Ackling; graphics by Agnes Martin; installations by Edmund De Waal and Jane Bustin, and paintings by James Hugonin and Sean Scully.