Monday, 15 September 2014
The Sensory Colour Feast of Krijn de Koning's Sculpture at Turner Contemporary
Until Sunday 2 November
A first visit to a new gallery always represents a special journey. Mine was along the promenade at Margate, gallery buildings shining from the harbour, to Turner Contemporary.
Even before I entered the gallery complex, my eye was captured by colour. Krijn de Koning, an international award winning Dutch artist, has inserted his work "Dwelling" on the South Terrace, between the gallery's external walls and the old town's southern edge on Fort Road. Pictures cannot do it justice.
To create his "Dwelling", de Koning has employed smoothly planed wooden beams. Joined together and painted, never did such simple means provide such a multi-faceted result. Walk inside, step up, step down, go through, turn, look up, look down to see the whole structure interact with the light coming off the sea to shape shift before your very eyes.
Open 10–6 daily
Note: As part of Krijn de Koning's commission, his first public commission in England, and in celebration of the Folkestone Triennial, the identical twin of "Dwelling" has been constructed on the zigzag path on Folkestone seafront. The time, entering fully into the English seaside experience, the artist has inserted the work inside a Victorian grotto. Mr de Koning can be assured I will be finding out about trains to Folkestone as well as about future exhibitions.
Open 10–5 daily
I love the Dutch/GB/Belgian link here. We share much in our history with the low countries: seafaring, especially long sea voyages, fishing, trading spats, painted seascapes, big infrastructure projects. Indeed, we share, on our eastern coast, the whole North Sea. Language too shows the links between proto-English and Dutch/Flemish. Thanet, for instance, is very like the modern Dutch ten ende, at the end. Margate was known as Meregate in 1264, "mere" being an inland pool of water accessed by a "gate" or gap in a cliff. The Dutch word meer means lake.
Part of Turner Contemporary's raison d'être is that it commands what I will call "The Turner View". Sent to school in Margate in 1786, from the 1860s Joseph Turner, by now JMW Turner, England's most celebrated painter of ships and the sea, visited regularly. His subject was always before him: Margate's unique interface between coastline, tempestuous North Sea and sky. Indeed, Turner is recorded as saying that the skies in this part of Kent were "the loveliest in all Europe". The architect David Chipperfield has marked this fact by placing the gallery's main south facing window to align with the view Turner would have had. Even in our anthropocene epoch, it exerts the same effect it always did.
Three exhibitions fill the gallery complex's interior. Mondrian and Colour shows the development of the Dutch artist's practice from figuratve to abstract, and includes the superlative Composition in Oval with Colour Planes II, 1914, a "soft toned" Mondrian, and one of many works generously lent by the Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag.
Until Sunday 21 September
Edmund de Waal's "Atmosphere" is an installation for the viewing of which you are invited to lie on the floor looking up. Generously plump yoga-style mats are provided for this purpose.
Until Sunday 8 February 2015
Works by Spencer Finch, include a rather nifty cloud construction that reflects the changing light from the gallery's clerestory windows and roof lights.
Until Sunday 21 September
All exhibitions at Turner Contemporary are free.
Your reviewer took Southeastern's HS1 offpeak service from St Pancras International to Margate, a total journey time of 88 minutes.