While I was studying for my first degree in the UK at Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic (later to be renamed Northumbria University), my fellow art students and I were fortunate to have the late Peter Fuller as ‘Art Critic in Residence’. He gave lectures and lead critiques of work by final year students that were tough and bordering on combative but which I’m sure helped those students to understand their own work and become able to defend their opinions and viewpoints.
After graduating I followed his writings and sent him images of my work, which he commented on. He described the sculpture I was making at the time as being reminiscent of the young Giacometti, which was a wonderful compliment as Giacometti was an artist who I greatly admired.
Peter Fuller told me that he would be following the progress of my work in the future. Tragically he was killed in a car crash and the British art world was robbed of one of its most erudite commentators.
Every time I read about the work of Giacometti or see an exhibition of his work I am reminded of the comments by Peter Fuller and that was again the case when I visited the Hong Kong Gagosian Gallery on 17th April.
The gallery had been transformed from its usual appearance and now resembled a Parisian gallery or museum with muted lighting and work behind glass cases. The curating of this show was very good, with links between the works made clear and the drawings, lithographs and books were punctuated by sculptures.
The way Giacometti drew and constructed 2D images was in complete sympathy with the methods of construction in his sculpture. It is as though he first constructs an imaginary 3D space in which his work can exist and then dips his hands into this volume of space to physically mold the drawings or paintings into shape. As I look at his work, at every second, I am aware of his hands pushing, pulling and twisting the marks into the required shape and configuration. I find his work sublime and it is so refined it brings tears to my eyes as I examine it.
Unfortunately the gallery attendants prevented me from taking photos with my phone. I don’t understand this policy, if they are selling good quality images as postcards or posters and do not want visitors to create their own high quality images then okay I see the point but I fail to see the harm in taking general gallery shots for one’s own record.
However, this didn’t prevent me from enjoying the exhibition thoroughly and it marked another high point in the Hong Kong art scene: Antony Gormley and Giacometti shows in less than a month…reminds me of life in London!