Thoughts on 'Alberto Giacometti Yves Klein: In Search of the Absolute' @ The Gagosian London.
Both Giacometti and Klein manage to reach through time. The pairing of the two at the Gagosian uncovers a resonance that echoes through the ages.
“The ongoing process of conscious experience is not so much an image of reality as a tunnel through reality.” (Thomas Metzinger “The Ego Tunnel: The science of the mind and the myth of the self”)
Giacometti and Klein seem to have found different paths up the same mountain. Both were operating closely in time and space: about a mile apart in Paris through the fifties and sixties. Klein, the more extrovert of the pair, appears the more modern and playful with his branded 'Klein International Blue' and innovative performance paintings. The works in Klein's 'Anthropometries' appear in stark contrast to Giacometti's intense, existential sculptures that were created in his studio through a constant working and reworking of clay before casting in heavy bronze. When placed together the forms of the paintings and statues complement each other and reverberate as you move through the space.
Giacometti and Klein both reference various aspects of history and art history; both had interests in Egyptian art and revered the prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux. The glass display case at the entrance to the second room exhibits smaller works by Giacometti and Klein that echo artefacts from an ancient culture. The majority of the exhibition is made up of images of the female form that have been distorted through reduction. It is this reduction either through a physical imprint on to canvas, tracing with fire or distorted proportions that brilliantly describe the ambiguity of the human experience of reality. These reductions of form are akin to our experience of the world as a reduction and distortion of what is. Exposing the process of production with fingerprints, smears of paint and an International Klein Blue sponge exposes the thinking behind the work. Klein, a conceptualist, and Giacometti, in constant conversation with Sartre, realise the forms that describe our reality and destabilise any sureness you can have in the physical. These ideas have only been expanded on by modern day science as if they were picking at the threads of reality for modern physics to later pull at and unravel.
Great artists are pioneers: they raise questions about the world we live in based on what has been and what could be. The questions raised by Klein and Giacometti over 50 years ago have been echoing through the years and remain unanswered. 'Alberto Giacometti and Yves Klein: In Search of the Absolute' serves as a space to meditate on these questions. As you move around the exhibition you can see both artists have stepped outside of their time in post-war Paris to highlight the integral and transcendental ideas of the relationship between experience, reality and the self. As for the absolute? We're still searching.