As well as having been famously married to John Lennon, Yoko Ono has been creating contemporary art for nearly 50 years. The 60s were a massive influence on her and the themes of peace and love are evident in nearly all of her work. Subtlety is something that’s not on Ono’s agenda. Both the three piles of earth labelled as different countries and an all white chess set ram home the message of how we’re all the same.
This positive message is not a bad thing as it’s a rarity in art, which prefers to feed off anger, anxiety and despair. With the hippie era long behind us her work stands out as a beacon, passing on the same messages in case we’ve forgotten it, which seems all the more relevant when we’re being constantly bombarded with news about how broke we all are and how tough life is.
There’s a lot of interactivity in this exhibition with visitors encouraged to write a message on a slip of paper and attach it to one of the trees outside the gallery. The transparent perspex maze is enjoyable, but it needs to be navigated slowly to avoid the embarassment of walking into a wall. At the middle of the maze is a pool of water offering a rather trite message about self-discovery.
Much of Ono’s work would benefit from being a lot more understated but if you leave all bitterness and cynicism at the door then the exhibition can be enjoyed for the simple life-affirming message it provides. However, the saccharine nature of this display may grate on some visitors.
Yoko Ono: To the Light is on at the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens until 9 September. Admission is free. Yoko Ono’s work is also on display at Invisible.
While you’re at the gallery make sure you check out the excellent pavilion outside.