the fourth plinth

The Fourth PlinthI’m a big fan of the fourth plinth. No, not Dan Brown’s new novel, the empty plinth in trafalagar square, erected in 1841 for a statue that never got built.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best showcase for public art in london, and has been host to some brilliant pieces in the past, including Mark Wallinger’s Christ figure, and Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper pregnant, both sculptures that quietly subverted the colonial grandeur of trafalgar square.

So, passing the square the other day on the bus, I was quite excited to see a big sheet over the plinth, and that evening, coming back, the new commission was in place. And here it is:

This is Thomas Schutte’s ‘Model for a hotel 2007’, made of coloured glass. The press release says it’s a utopian architectural vision that is “multi-layered, mysterious, and promising to sparkle like a brightly-coloured jewel.”

Now, I’m no stranger to utopian architectural vision, but try as I might, what it reminds me of most is Rotastak’s ‘space command unit’ for hamsters, a “fantastic space themed unit that has all the necessary components to provide out of this world housing for your pet.”

Perhaps I’ll warm to it.

bar code art

I came across the Art Lebedev the other day, an anarchic Russian design collective with a nice anti-capitalist streak. Their logo is a bar code, and they find all sorts of ways of sneaking it in to places, which makes an interesting statement about commodification.

These and dozens of others are in their little online gallery here.

half formed thoughts

I came across an artist I quite like the other day, Gerry Bergstein, from Boston. Let me show you a painting:

I love this mass of scribbles and shapes, looming and disintegrating at the same time. It’s monstrous and daunting, but it’s also held together with tape, and in the cracks and the holes there’s nothing but black space.

This is meant to be eight feet wide, so it loses something along the way – look closely at the bottom left corner and you will see this small figure.

The painting is called ‘What shall I paint today?’, and there is the painter, standing before this enormous mess, raising the empty canvas to the fragmented and sketchy vision that’s in his head. The idea is there, compelling, powerful, but until it’s realised it is a fragile, barely formed tangle. It could be blown away forever at the slightest distraction.
It’s a beautiful portrayal of the creative process, the gap between the conception of an idea and its delivery, that waiting time while our brains work out how to express what it is they have imagined. I love it, because I seem to spend most of my life in that gap.

You can see more of Mr Bergstein’s remarkable paintings here.