Two Exhibitions: Jon Rafman and John Hoyland

I'm not going to say much about these two exhibitions, well at least I'm not setting out to but I never know when I start writing what may develop. So, the first experience was the Jon Rafman exhibition; and experience is the right word here as his work really encourages interaction. I find this kind of thing very difficult to write about, probably because I'm unfamiliar with many of the references, these being: video games, internet memes and virtual landscapes. However, this didn't stop me enjoying the show very much. The key for me is spending time with the pieces, just relaxing and watching the videos a few times to get into the 'zone'.

The essential pieces in this exhibition comprise of a video trilogy exploring the deep internet; a collage of images exploring desire, consumerism, escapism and memory within the subculture of on-line communities. These are all very powerful works, sometimes hypnotic and sometimes violently exciting. I particularly liked Erysichthon (Temple Ruins) and Sticky Drama. Videos are experienced within their own environments, one called Betamale invites you to climb into a container filled with balls; we didn't go in but watched others from the mezzanine, which was quite amusing.

We were there on the opening day of this exhibition and there were a lot of people, consequently we missed some of the pieces due to queues. We will be going back for the Sculpture Garden (Hedge Maze) and various smaller pieces which are like cupboard units. On entering through a door you can watch the videos in a sort of Tardis/cupboard...I made the classic mistake of opening one up while someone was in it saying "Oh I am sorry" and quickly exiting the area.

Zablbdowicz collection  This exhibition is free to get in and is on until 20 December 2015.

Exhibition number two was in the newly opened Newport Street Gallery. This was the opening exhibition for Damien Hirst's new gallery, set up to show his own collection. The space is very nice; two floors coated in ultra-white, clean paint and impressive stairways connecting the two spaces. All the paintings on show were by John Hoyland and covered the period between 1964 - 1982. If you go to this show looking for meaning you won't find much, or maybe you look for references to the world around you in a painting but that will be missing too. What these works are about is pure painting and pure colour. They are very experimental works. You will experience the artist searching for different ways to apply paint, for example, very thin washes against thick slabs of colour with hard but not precise edges. They go from being quite tidy and neat to explosive and messy; from jewel-like reds blues and greens to works that are fleshy and pink and reminded us of exploding cakes. Being predominately decorative, I thought the work was good but not deep; to me they are all about the surface. Still, I enjoyed going to a new gallery space and viewing work that I haven't seen before. Also it was enjoyable to mooch around Vauxhall, where we encountered alpacas in a nearby City farm and sweet potato chips in a pub that were very good.

These two exhibitions are polar opposites and cannot be compared but for me the Jon Rafman was more fun whilst the John Hoyland felt sedate and laid-back.

Plenty of time left for this as it is on until 3.4.2016

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