Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith
If you don’t know his name, you’ll recognise his work, so it’s not surprising that over the first few weeks of Tate Liverpool’s new Klein/Krasinski exhibition, people have been flocking to see this rare display of work by one of the world’s best known artists.
What makes it even better is that it’s fun. Don’t walk in with a stuffy face and a hand on your chin, that’s not how to view Klein or Krasinski. Walk in expecting a playground, and that is what you’ll get.
Krasinski played with shapes for his entire career, and questions how that shape was affected by, or effective on, the people who viewed it. The first thing you see walking in is a series of hanging sculptures – I’m apprehensive to call them mobiles as they don’t take their life from their own movement, they take it from yours. The sculptures are suspended in front of a wall, and the shadow behind them moves with you around the room. Simple concept? Yes. But it led to incredible things.
It doesn’t take long to leave these immersive, playful, works, and enter a room full of strict lines. Bold, sharp, directions that lead your eye to the floor, to the ceiling, to the wall, and back again.
It’s still sounding like quite a clear progression of an artist’s career cycle here; playful becomes strict, and the artist gains a new found respect. Any artist, even the one in the next room, Yves Klein, follows that linear career to some degree. But Krasinski didn’t. The exhibition is a perfect demonstration of how this artist rediscovered his playfulness, and used it to create strict, concise fields of thought for his audiences.
That blue line of tape, leading around the exhibition is a curatorial nightmare, but, done right, it gets visitors to Tate Liverpool doing exactly the same thing, time and time again. I thought I was the only one trying to line the line up; crouching with my camera to get the perfect shot of one single blue line passing through the space.
Turns out that was a bit big headed of me. Two other visitors were doing the same just around the corner, and on the way out an invigilator showed me her collection of photos doing just the same. I might feel less special, but I know why…
Because Krasinski wanted me to do that. Within the playful shapes, and strictly laid out plinths, or mazes of mirrors, he set a rule, which, even after his death, is respected. His work is connected. It is displayed in order. It goes from A to B and then takes an incredibly unique path to Z, stopping at a couple of numbers on its way through the alphabet.
If that last paragraph didn’t make much sense, that’s because Krasinski didn’t want it to. Take the installation (intervention as the artist preferred) with phone, hose & open book, and you can’t deny it – it’s literally drawn out. He may not have had a plan, but at every point, he tried, at least, to second guess the next point.
Because seriously, why would you want to know the ending. Like all work of that generation, it liked asking questions and giving no answers. Kransinski’s work lets you spend a little time playing before realising that though.
The exhibition continues until 5th March 2017