Richard Tuttle at the Modern Art Gallery

 Richard Tuttle Walking on Air C1 2009 

Richard Tuttle, Walking on Air, C1 2009, cotton with Rit dyes, grommets, thread, 2x panels

Tuttle Walking on Air C3

Richard Tuttle; Walking on Air, C3 2009. cotton with Rit dyes, grommets, thread, 2x panels

Tuttle Stuart Shave

Richard Tuttle’  L’nger than Life, installation view, Photos taken from;

Now and again there is an exhibition that totally perplexes you because it asks the question; what is art? Richard Tuttle’s exhibition at the Modern Art Gallery does this, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

Tie-die, the choice clothing embellishment of the traditional hippy could be the beginnings of a spectacularly different approach to an art exhibition. Here it seems that Tuttle, a well established ‘post minimalist’ artist has attached bits of died cloth together with grommets and then stuck them on the walls. Perhaps he employed young school children to produce them, which is honourable, but all in all the effect is rather disappointing and characterless.

Take ‘Walking on Air, C1’ for instance; an interesting mix of colours to combine and not asthetically displeasing; a sky blue cloth attached to a purple, white and red marble effect cloth. Then we have, (wait for it), ‘Walking on Air, C3”. This perhaps one of the most complex pieces being a green, red and white patterned sheet, joined onto a white sheet with a yellow splodge. But what is the point to it?

Richard Tuttle describes the meanings behind these works on;

Tuttle describes his new work as being “in a syncretic tradition, where the equal and opposite can co-exist and the abstract and the real are not in a state of ambiguity.” Walking on Air represents for him an “expression of elation for the potential for a new beginning, the possibility to rebuild and discover a harmony for existing in the world today.”

Certainly he is getting at something here, a reconciliation of two seemingly disparate coloured cloths both totally unique and handmade (perhaps the way as humans our DNA is totally unique) united together to create a new start. The beautiful union of two bits of tie-died cloth! With this my friend, we could take over the world. Sorry, sorry, we could bring peace to the world. And the whole association with hippies, well, self explanatory.

But they just don’t speak to me. They are essentially an inspired idea but Tuttle’s most eloquent description does not translate into something tangible.

Am I missing the point here?  I probably I am. The Time Out review raved about how, “With work this good, this cogent and concise, how come it’s been almost 15 years since Tuttle’s last exhibition in this country?”

And fair play to them, it must be me missing the tree hugger for the trees. (Bad joke)



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