Three years of my life as an EU student of English Literature at the University of East Anglia,England.
I really wished I’d managed to write this post as soon as the exhibition opened but as you can see, I have been incredibly busy recently – even with university being over!
I was once more invited to the opening of a new exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre: Rana Begum: Space Light Colour! Having never heard of this artist and having no idea what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the opening talk.
This is the first time that the Sainsbury Centre have put together an exhibition focusing on a single artist and they would like to go back to the “roots” of the Sainsbury Centre: incorporate more contemporary pieces and exhibitions!
What I particularly liked about this exhibition was the fact that you can’t get much more contemporary than this and I LOVE that! The experience of this exhibition – yeah, it truly is a visual and spatial experience – was sometimes destabilising.
As I got up the stairs to the mezzanine, where the exhibition is, I found myself immersed in an experience, surrounded by a huge multi-coloured “structure” – metal cages! This was totally unexpected but I adored it. Visitors are then encouraged to find their way out of this metallic maze and to wonder around the huge structure/sculpture.
Wandering around it and seeing bits of someone else’s body on the other side made me think about the idea of boundary, and how boundaries are often barriers imposed on the mind rather than the body. My theory is supported by the colours of those “cages” – multi-coloured – perhaps an echo to racial and cultural differences? I wonder if this is what the artist intended – but does it even matter? I used to find that type of art so frustrating but now, it’s precisely what I love about it.
I particularly liked this first piece because this, like the rest of the pieces at this exhibition, represents what I love in contemporary art and even in contemporary literature: the art only makes sense through the spectators and their experience. Spectators are an integral part of the art and “create” it, visually as much as thematically (through interpretation) as they walk through the gallery.
I found some of the other pieces spectacular. Simple yet clever. Again, they played a lot with light and colour and demanded an active engagement from the visitors. While typically, visitors will just stand still and stare at a piece or at a painting, everyone kept moving everywhere, trying to “get” the different pieces presented and understand them by studying every inch of each piece from multiple angles – staring, moving, comparing, going back and looking again… The idea of movement and perspective was definitely my favourite thing about the Rana Begum’s work!
So as you can see, I thought it was an excellent exhibition! I loved it so much I took my boyfriend there the following week. Even if contemporary art isn’t something you necessarily enjoy or “get”, you wouldn’t have the opportunity to see something like that everywhere!
The exhibition is open until October but why wait to see something superb? Right now is the perfect time to go for students who are now done or nearly done with coursework and exams! It doesn’t matter whether you are a huge fan of art of if you enjoy this style: I urge you to do and see and think about it!
And remember: students can get a free membership card which grants access to all temporary exhibitions for free. Do not miss this opportunity!