RWA Friends Magazine
An Artist’s Perspective - Adam White
‘The Gallery’ in Stratford-upon-Avon approached me for a major show of my large-scale watercolours. The work concerned ‘Chemical War’. It had previously been shown at artfairs in London and Dublin . I don’t believe that controversy confers merit - I don’t court controversy so I didn’t expect to be censored.
The issue was centred on a 2.4 x 1.7m watercolour that contained a reference to an anatomical drawing by Leonardo. It was suggested that the work caused offence and should be withdrawn. The secondary reason being that the press would love to exploit the situation - the local council had already cut 60% of the gallery's budget and was looking for further cuts as a vote winner.
A compromise was reached whereby the work would be on display for the private view and subsequently masked, which is funny and mildly voyeuristic.
There may be circumstances when galleries & artists must be sensitive to their audiences. I have to thank the curator for actually getting my work on the wall.
It seems inconsistent that the repetition of sex, death & violence are acceptable in popular culture but the slightest transgressions in art are not.
A Curator’s Perspective -Jess Morgan
‘The Gallery’ is in the middle of a leisure centre so that contemporary art can be brought to an audience that would never usually seek it out. It’s this cross-section of the audience that it is hardest to curate shows for and where the majority of the complaints come from if there are any.
As a curator you always walk the thin line between what’s best for your gallery and audience - the balance between maintaining the artistic integrity of the work and showing what is easily interpretable to the audience.
Adam’s work is amazing and perfect - it can stand up to being in such a large open room. The main ‘problem’ with ‘Chemical War’was that the imagery in question was sexually graphic in nature. At the private view it was interesting to note that the only complaint was that the work had been covered up.