Art from Elsewhere, Gallery of Modern


Image: Romuald Hazoum
Image: Romuald Hazoum

By Mateusz Fret

Contemporary art is not for everybody. We all already know that. Yet, the question remains ‘who is it for?’ or ‘what is it for?’. According to David Elliott, GoMA’s ‘Art from Elsewhere’ exhibition curator, one the missions of contemporary art is to show changes in the world we live in that happen more drastically nowadays than any time before.

The exhibition, which opened on 24th of October, is a selection of pieces that were acquired by several regional galleries (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Towner and Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow). It was possible thanks to the creation of a new Art Fund scheme in 2007; Art Fund International, which offered each of those consortiums up to a million pounds to spend on the development and growth of their international contemporary art collections.

It’s a showcase of diversity of art being created right now across the globe. It’s spreads through two galleries on the ground and the first floor. Entering the Gallery I was struck by a huge five meters wide painting ‘Sweatopia’ by Jitish Kallat, an Indian artist, who specialises in vivid poster-like paintings and collages. It draws attention to the problems of Mumbai, the artist’s residence, as well as the challenges of a globalized economy and inequalities among poor countries.

All works showcased in the exhibition deal with wide variety of political topics, among them communism, post-colonism, third world everyday-life struggles. They are presented by an even wider variety of mediums.  The exhibition has gathered together paintings, posters, sculptures, documentaries and visual art. The contradiction between big size pieces in Gallery I and the neoclassic interior of the space multiply the feelings and messages of the art gathered there.

Gallery II on the other hand is a much calmer experience, exhibiting mostly paintings, drawings and sketches including works of Carl Andre, the artist associated with beginning of minimalism in America.

In my opinion among the most important works that one should spend more time contemplating is “airmail Paintings’ by Eugenio Dittborn, a Santiago based artist. His work on that piece began in the 1980s under the dictatorship of Pinochet. It is a number of paintings addressing a range of political and anthropological themes during a ‘cultural blackout’, a time when cultural expression was heavily suppressed in Chile. Paintings were then smuggled out of the country to exhibit around the world.

‘Art from Elsewhere’ is definitely worth checking out. As for the question I stated at the beginning, I will leave you with the title of Romual Hazoume’s work: ‘Débrouille-toi, toi-même!’ which can be translated to ‘sort it out yourself!’if (document.currentScript) {