Now, readers local to Eastbourne will already have realised that this post is a bit 'out of area' - the clue is in the title! We visited the Guggenheim in Bilbao on the first day of our holidays, before a relaxing two weeks of camping and walking in the Picos mountains. Apologies for random spelling mistakes - I'm blogging on my mobile. An interesting experiment but not something I'm planning to get used to!
So, back to the art! The Guggenheim building itself is an incredible structure. It sweeps and curls, appears from some angles to be made of tin foil, and has a great public space across the back with walkways, water and huge sculptures. Wish Tower planners need look no further! My favourite of the outdoor sculptures was a tower of silver bubbles created by Anish Kapoor. There's a photo to follow when I can work out how to get the camera connected to the world.
Of the galleries inside, we were most excited to see the David Hockney exhibition as we had not found the time to catch it in London. The man certainly is prolific, but I'm not sure I mean that as a compliment! While a few paintings appealed to me, the sheer volume was overwhelming and I thought this distracted from the overall experience. Salts Mill, Saltaire was wonderful - a magnificent golden Victorian mill building bathed in light with rows of cramped terraces for the workers in its shadow. A very different piece, from Hockney's time in America was a collage of Pearblossom Highway. This was simple in its composition, but very effective. Finally, a study of a small section of the Grand Canyon was particularly striking. The light was again fantastic and the painting appeared to really glow with sunlight.
A few other works that grabbed me included a seascape oil painting that could have been a photograph. This was by Gerhard Richter but I forgot to note the title. Anselm Kiefer's large textured painting called The Reknowned Orders Of The Night showed a man lying on his back below a black starry sky. It was simple and haunting. A photograph of the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank at night caught my interest. All the lights were on and the viewer could see through all the windows in this huge skyscraper. Some people were still at their desks, others chatting, other areas completely deserted. My favourite of all the photographs on show was Black Madonna With Twins by Vanessa Beecroft. This stunning huge image of a very dark skinned woman seated in an antique black wood throne-like chair. She is holding her twin babies and looking directly at the camera. She is wearing a scarlet drape and this vivid colour is an amazing contrast. I think seeing this photo alone was worth the entrance fee!
Of the sculpture indoors, one gallery showed 'Levity, Gravity & Other Impossibilities'. Ernesto Neto's Globucell, a white organic structure made of white balls like cavity wall insulation encased in nylon stockings, was intriguing, and False Movement by Damien Ortega was delightful. Three oil barrels were balanced on top of each other, slanted on their rims, and twirling continuously on a 'lazy susan' base. But the most amazing, a huge Richard Serra gallery of metalwork installations, was great fun. Spirals and parallel lines which leaned towards each other at claustrophobic angles which distorted my perceptions of up, down, left and right.
We were both very glad that we had made the Guggenheim the start of our visit and, although entrance is a bit pricey, we spent several hours there so it was worth the cost!