Have you ever stopped to think how the scale of (your) art impacts its viewers?
And how the message of the work changes according to how it is arranged?
In this two-part post I ponder the influence of size and display as I explore two parallel art exhibitions at the CAC Málaga: The tiny pieces in Made in Spain and the gargantuan works of Yan Pei-Ming in No Comment.
Part 1. Size Matters
I felt like Alice swapping between the 'Drink Me', shrink-me potion and the 'Eat Me', grow-me cake, as I stepped between the main hall at the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) in Málaga containing Yan Pei-Ming's monolithic paintings, into the side-gallery showing 20-21st century Spanish works restricted in size to a 10x12 canvas.
Whether these two exhibitions had been deliberately put side by side, I have no idea, and although seeing art live always holds some surprises of scale, the change in magnitude here is as disorientating as it is thought-provoking.
Art with a Big Impact
Yan Pei-Ming is a Chinese artist from Shanghai, living in France since 1980.
He paints two contrasting kinds of 'portraits' - well-known figures and anonymous victims of present-day conflicts.
I felt I wasn't so much viewing his paintings as being confronted by them. His broad brushstrokes and limited colour palette directly impact the senses.
You can't get distracted by detail because there isn't any; in fact, you have to stand a long, long way back from the work for the image to finally materialise out of the brushstrokes.
But when it does - Wow! Powerful.
Art With a Small Footprint
The Made in Spain exhibition has been developed in parallel with the Luciano Benetton project Imago Mundi and aims to include 80 countries and 10.000 artworks by the end of 2015.
This exhibition is a melting pot of current and 20th century Spanish artistic tendencies at a diminutive scale.
A broad selection of artists - from established to emerging - were issued with a 10 x 12 cm canvas and the result is eclectic and intriguing.
I've talked before about how making art at a small size, needn't diminish it's impact, and this is certainly true of the work in Made in Spain. As well as painting and decorating the surface, some of the artists have really pushed the physical boundaries of the canvas, creating tiny sculptures and installations.
Because of the tiny size of the pieces, I felt myself drawn into close contact for a detailed investigation of its qualities - a strong contrast to the way I was pushed back by Yan Pei-Ming's work.
Is Your Art Large or Small?
What about your art?
Read Part 2 for a look at how the way art is distributed and hung, changes our perception of it.