Torture And Textiles At The Serpentine Galleries

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 51 months ago
Torture And Textiles At The Serpentine Galleries ★★☆☆☆ 2

Flayed bodies battle it out in this visceral scene. Copyright READS 2015

Leon Golub - Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Leon Golub was an American figurative painter whose career stretched from the 1950s through to his death in 2004. This meant he saw his fair share of war, and Vietnam and the impacts of US foreign policy in South America serve as inspiration for his works on display in this survey show.

Golub's pieces are huge in scale, and the fact they are painted on linen gives them a roughness that chimes with their subject matter. We were intrigued by a shadowy insect-like figure emerging from one work — but it's the war inspired pieces that are the most powerful — including a set of flayed men fighting, and a naked woman bound, gagged, blindfolded and being tortured by two men in military uniforms.

Later works stretch into the surreal, but it's Golub's paintings that shine a spotlight on the horrors of war which really make for a powerful statement of an exhibition.

Boomerang and wooden stakes form part of this exhibition. Copyright READS 2015

Pascale Marthine Tayou - Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Over at the Serpentine Sackler is a much busier exhibition filled with objects and artworks concocted from a mixture of materials. Belgian based artist Pascale Marthine Tayou was born in Cameroon and there are clearly nods to his African roots. Diamond shaped structures hold brightly coloured rocks, and portrait photographs have been shot to note the level of conflict on the African continent.

There are less obvious works including a cloud of wool that seems to be held together with wooden stakes, broken mirrors, crystal masks and knotted petrol pumps. The difficulty we have with this exhibition is that it seems to be conveying a message of the state of Africa given what's happened in recent history — but this is never made clear, and the artworks lack a coherent overall narrative.

Leon Golub: Bite your Tongue & Pascale Marthine Tayou: Boomerang are both on at the Serpentine Galleries in Kensington Gardens until 17 May. Entrance to both exhibitions are free.

Last Updated 06 March 2015