Love is one of the most confusing and controversial subjects. Love is what we do, want, hate, draw, write, talk or sing about. However, we are not always sure about its true meaning. You can be skeptical about it like Samantha Jones or Frédéric Beigbeder or stay more optimistic. Whatever your opinion you have about love, it is always good to ponder over the matter. In art love takes multiple forms and appears as romantic, repulsive, exciting, calming and aggressive, can be liquid, solid, no matter what it is made of, we call it love.
IMMA in Dublin has recently surprised me with an interesting combination of artworks in its temporary exhibition WHAT WE CALL LOVE. Amoung the pieces on the display were ones by Picasso, Dali, Louise Bourgeois and Damien Hirst. So these are my highlights from the collection:
Louise Bourgeois. The Couple
The Couple is penetrated by so typical for Bourgeois emotionally disturbing sexual coloring which comes out through fluid form and polished surface of the art piece. I have first seen Bourgeois`s works in Picasso`s museum in Malaga and it took me some time to emotionally digest the whole sensuality of the exhibition. Her works go back to the roots: her family, sexual treason of her father, matters of protection, deep attachment, attraction and desire. Her art is repulsive and mesmerizing at the same time, which is why I love it. The Couple is a connection of bodies that reflect each other: the form of both of the objects stuck together is the same, and their shiny silver surface mirrors one another. In love we see the reflection of our partner and although we are different, we become the same.
Damien Hirst I`ll Love You Forever
As much as art aficionados argue over the works of Damien Hirst, I do believe that his works are very challenging in their nature: they provoke the audience and puzzle it with its meaning. It took me some time (and extra reading) to understand what the cage medical waste actually mean. What did Hirst mean to say? It is the dangerous incarceration that love imposes in some cases – fear to go and fear to stay, jealousy and control. Not the control of the body itself, rather than the control of the mind that spreads in your mind and fights with your free spirit. This work goes in line with Hirst`s scientific approach to art (as in A Thousand Years) and shares his personal story. Does intoxicating love leave place for romance? “Okay, my last relationship, it ended about six moths ago; it lasted about eighteen. I spent the whole time saying ‘I don’t believe in love’ and trying to find a way to believe in it […] I wanted realism; she wanted romance. I actually wanted romance within a kind of realism. I cried a bit, laughed a lot, sex was good. I like, no, still like, the way she smells; I like it a lot. I wanted statements like ‘I will love you forever until I don’t’ to replace ‘I will love you forever’ without losing anything” – Hirst.
Elmgreen and Dragset Performance
Speaking about confusing art – this one seems explicit while it`s not. Basically, the bed itself is just a part of the performance where two young men sit on the chairs, then undress and lie together on the bed, after some time repeat this ritual (in total the performance took 4 hours). The performance took place in September was recorded and is now displayed beside the artwork on a small TV screen. The straightforward meanings – unisexual love, intimacy and trust. After the first glance you ask questions – why is it performed for 4 hours, not 3 or 5? Why there are towels and metallic bowls and why the bed reminds more of a hospital ward, rather than an ordinary bed in an ordinary flat? Why has the artist chosen white color? In this piece, everything has its symbolism. Maybe white stands for purity and the exactly same items on both sides of the bed represent the duality of souls. It is hard to have a definitive answer, in all comes to interpretation.
Salvador Dali Their Heads Full of Clouds
The most evident explanation to this picture lies in interpreting it as the lovers who are unable to think straight and whose thoughts are blurred by the ubiquitous feeling of love. From one side, yes. We can say so. But if we take the pure form of love, the genuine feeling, isn`t liberating? Doesn`t it push us to great lengths when the sky is the only limit? The distinctive contrast between the deserted land and blue sky with light clouds for me was the separation between the reality and the world we see when we are in love. Remember this feeling when you are in love (if you were lucky/unlucky to be) and some of the problems seem so silly and insignificant? That is what I am talking about. The surreal love and infinite imagination of Salvador Dali are the best mix this exhibition could get.