How does the message of (your) art change according to the way it's displayed or compiled?
Group of untitled monochrome portraits by Yan Pei-Ming at the CAC Málaga
In the first part of this two-part post we went on a whistle-stop tour of two art exhibitions running in parallel at the CAC Málaga (the tiny works in Made in Spain and the enormous paintings of Yan Pei-Ming in No Comment to see how the scale of art impacts the way we perceive it.
In this second part, we'll revisit the two exhibitions to see how a well thought-out hanging adds an extra dimension to the experience of seeing art and how we can apply these lessons to compiling or displaying creative products of any kind.
Execution After Goya, Yan Pei-Ming 2008
First Impressions Count
Stepping through the door of the No Comment exhibition, you are confronted with a wall-sized red painting - Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming's homage to Goya: Execution After Goya 2008 in which the artist reinterprets Goya's famous painting from 1814, 'El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid', (3rd of May 1808 in Madrid).
The first encounter with the blood-redness of this painting is visceral and shocking and prepares you for a challenging visit. But it's on the way out, that the precise brilliance of its placement becomes really apparent: after having been exposed to painting after painting in tones of black and grey, Execution After Goya grabs you all over again, sealing the whole experience.
Grouping Artworks for Maximum Impact
The scale of the work in the main exhibition area - as I mentioned in the previous post - is overpowering and humbling. But the force of the exhibition is not left to scale alone. In each separate area the arrangement of the work is skilfully thought out: Large paintings in a small group, small paintings in a large group, landscape paintings alone, portrait paintings alone, triptychs, diptychs...every possible formation has been used to its utmost effect. And the effect is? Immersive. Like being submerged in Yan Pei-Ming's subconscious. Could we ask for more?
Works from Made in Spain 2015: 1- Roy Anglada 2. Jesús Zurita 3. Malena Tous
Small Artworks Grouped Thematically
The tiny format of the pieces in Made in Spain also lends itself to grouping, but because it is difficult to get a sense of the whole group from afar (unless you have above-average vision), the scale changes the experience completely.
The works are grouped theatically: landscape, figures, abstraction, images that overstep the boundaries...But this isn't something that is immediately apparent. The miniature scale forces you to step into the group in order to experience it, become part of it almost; the theme revealing itself imperceptibly as you explore. (You can see this interaction between viewer and artworks here.)
Creative Products in Emotive Combinations
How might you group your works for maximum immersion and impact? Think not just in terms of visual art but poems or short stories, pieces of music, even product bundles. What theme will you use to tie them together? How could you allow this to gradually reveal itself rather than make it obvious? Or might you experiment with a 'counterpoint' element like the red Goya painting?
Share your thoughts in the comments.