Art for Inspiration

This week I took a trip to Birmingham, partly for pleasure and partly to refresh the ol’ brain cells and for a change of scene.

Yesterday, during a visit to the city centre I decided what I really needed was an injection of inspiration so headed to the IKON gallery to see an exhibition by Žilvinas Kempinas. Sara Barker is also currently showing there, but for time/space constraints I’ll need to concentrate on Žilvinas’ work today. I happen to prefer his work too.

Žilvinas’ art is very much on the Intsallation spectrum, and normally I’m a little sceptical of anything with that tag, but his work is very engaging and thought-provoking. I’m no art critic, so I’m going to struggle with the terms and concepts used to describe this work, but it seemed to me he’s very interested in magnets and magnetic media, physics, frequencies, organic shapes and ways of using these elements either singly or combined to fascinate or disturb us.

I won’t describe the entire exhibition, but highlights would have to include Oasis; imagine a loop of recording tape, diameter approximately 6 foot, levitating, swirling, shape-shifting, rising and falling in mid-air by use of a ceiling fan directly above and an arrangement of metal panels on the floor below which together form some kind of air vortex which keeps the tape from ever flying out of its space or dropping to the floor.

In another room, black walls with circular works laid behind panels, illuminated all-round from inside the wall, resemble a series of moonscapes. From the ceiling are suspended dozens of strands of magnetic recording tape, forcing the viewer to mind how they navigate the room. At the end of the room is a giant screen, a piece titled White Noise, comprising a dizzying display of horizontal strands of video tape, rapidly animated by hidden fans, creating the effect of white noise on a de-tuned TV.

Standing facing this screen and allowing it to fill my vision for a few moments gave me motion sickness, but it was fascinating to allow a piece of art to affect me on such a visceral level and I struggled to peel myself away.

The IKON positively encourages photography, and plenty of visitors were snapping away on cameras and smartphones, and while I wanted to concentrate on just looking at and considering the works I couldn’t resist lining up a couple of shots to capture peoples’ interactions with them.

I don’t get the opportunity to get out and view much art, but often when I do I come away with new thoughts about my own work; even the corporate photography. It’s good fuel for my mind’s eye.

And every time I do go and see an exhibition, I tell myself I must get out and see more. Then time passes by, life intervenes and I seem to be back where I started. The beauty of Žilvinas’ work is I think unlike most modern art, this will stay with me for a long time and I’ll keep thinking back to what it represents and what I learned from it.

For more information on this and future exhibitions at IKON, see this link.

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