I’ll admit, this exhibition only caught my eye because I saw the words ‘Marvin Gaye’ and thought it might be about the legendary soul singer, but I’m glad it did grab my attention.
Okay, I was a little disappointed at first when I realised it had nothing to do with one of my favourite singers, but that changed when I explored further. Marvin Gaye actually refers to the artist, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd. Chetwynd’s work feature everything from biblical and medieval references to inspiration from black and white movies to contemporary media such as Star Wars and Starship Troopers. The artist formerly known as Spartacus Chetwynd was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2012. Watch Chetwynd’s work titled The Green Room below.
Her multimedia art is deliberately amateurish as others have pointed out (who said art had to be polished anyway?) – and I like it. There’s a certain childlike quality which makes it hard not smile at the props, stage decorations and costumes, which could have come straight out of a school production. However, it can be easy to become too focused on the costumes and props which can detract from the choreography and storytelling. We must remember these are merely aids in representing the true purpose of her work. Look beyond the aesthetics and you’ll find deeper lying plots and themes to the performances. Deeper analysis into some of her work is explained better than I ever could in the video below.
Although performance was void at Sadie Coles, the work still manages to engage the visitor.
Both rooms of Sadie Coles have been transformed into what can only be called the work of a madman. My first thoughts turn to films and TV shows where the murderer’s walls are a haze of photos and newspaper cuttings – it’s hard to know where to look or start. Stepping into the room almost feels like stepping into the art work, encouraging you to interact with it. Covering everything in black and white print from the full length of the wall and pillars to the floor and even the little tent at the back of the room makes it hard to escape. I almost felt a little guilty to be walking (which eventually became tip-toeing) on the art and tearing it here and there.
Looking closer you can see a myriad of odd pictures (taking the craziness to a new level) and script taken from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Having not read the collection of stories (although I am intrigued to pick up a copy now), it makes little to no sense to me, but I still found it surprisingly satisfying to look at anyway.
The large prints which cover the entire wall have A4 sheets of black and white prints stuck to them, and those A4 sheets contain collages of… well I’m not sure. I can see buildings, faces, body parts, archaeological references and of course passages from The Canterbury Tales. Chetwynd has dismantled and reconstructed the tales through collages (you’ll have to tell me if this collage is some strange reference to The Tales).
Walk down the stairs and things are equally strange in the second room – bats everywhere. Spanning over a decade of work, there’s a little less chaos witnessed with Bat Opera; A4 sheets placed along the wall not too dissimilar to how a gallery would display art work. It’s a nice contrast from not knowing where to look previously to repetition and the work of an organised madman, this time with a fetish for bats. The bats are shown as theatrical creatures, either in full flight, wings wide open and even singing in some like a diva hitting a high note.
If you’re interested in seeing more of Marvin Gaye Chetwynd’s work, here is Brain Bug. I also recommend watching the fascinating video What Do Artists Do all Day? featuring none other than Chetwynd and her interview which delves into her process and work – enjoy!
Liked this? Read more of my art exhibition reviews in London.
What did you think of Chetwynd’s multimedia performances? Tell me in the comments section below!