Friday, 11 January 2013

Klein / Moriyama

I eventually made it to the Klein / Moriyama exhibition at the Tate Modern last weekend. The exhibition runs until 20 January, so there isn't a lot of time left to see it.

And see it you most assuredly must.

I had heard of Klein, but not of Moriyama, so my attendance was very much focused on the former's work.

Extravagant, multi-faceted and in many ways as large, brash and vulgar as New York itself, Klein's art is much more than just photography. He created abstract art as well as some intriguing films. However, his art and films struck me as a little self-indulgent and pretentious, very much on the edge of vulgarity.

There can be no doubt, however, that as occasionally pretentious and ostentatious as Klein's photo's could be, he had a marvellous eye for composing photos and for capturing subjects at moments that overflow with pathos, drama, emotion and excitement, while retaining beautiful simplicity and power.

This left me entirely unprepared for Moriyama's work. Described as a member of the "avant-garde" photographers of the late 1960's, I had been expecting something like the tosh I occasionally knock out on Instagram.

Not realising how the two exhibitions merged into one another, I, walked into a room and thought: "Blimey - Klein stepped it up a gear here." Then I realised I was in the first room of Moriyama's pictures and I was absolutely transfixed. Every one of his photos, despite their apparent "happy snap" nature told a story, or provoked questions or both.

Their rough simplicity and use of texture occasionally left me reeling with the power of the emotion they raised in me. From casual eroticism to fish being filleted to cats, Moriyama's work left me quite stunned. So much so that I went back to the start and saw the whole exhibition again.

Go see it. I think I could probably spend a week in the Moriyama exhibition alone.

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