LA Exuberance is the title Dean gave to a new set of lithographs she made with print publishers Gemini G.E.L. Exhilarated by being in California (and excited to be working with such an institution as Gemini), Dean set about trying to use an unfamiliar medium, colour lithography, to depict the clouds and vapour trails she found striking in Los Angeles, where she’d been invited as artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute 2014-15. The resulting prints are drawn and not photographic, and their apparent simplicity beguiles their labour.
Dean also began working on a series of slate drawings. Offered several original Victorian-era school slates, she was attracted to their patina and scuffed beauty, and began using spray chalk, gouache and white charcoal pencil to work on a series of clouds in conjunction with LA Exuberance. The slate titles are taken from A Complete Concordance to Shakespeare. She has also begun adding grids and lines to give formal structure to the amorphous nature of a cloud, but also in reference to the didactic nature of the slates and the idea of categorisation.
Also in Los Angeles, Dean had the opportunity to meet the artist David Hockney and asked if she could film him smoking. Smoking is instinct to David and is embedded in his process – to remove it would be to impair the long-achieved and finely balanced quality of his concentration. On show downstairs, the resulting 16mm film, Portraits is not one but five cigarettes and is compounded in its multiple portrait-ness not only by the paintings that surrounded Hockney in his studio as she filmed but by the one of her son Rufus that was still hanging on the wall behind.
Tacita Dean’s 2015 film Event for a Stage will be screened upstairs throughout the exhibition. Originally commissioned as a live performance on four consecutive nights at Carriageworks as part of the 2014 Sydney Biennial, it became Dean’s first foray into theatre and her first experience of working with an actor. What resulted was a fierce interplay between the artist and the actor Stephen Dillane as they struggled to understand and accommodate each other’s disciplines. Dean filmed each of the four nights as part of the performance with the intention of making the film. But as Blake Gopnik wrote in The Daily Pic: “But if that premise is easily grasped, the work’s actual content, and Dean’s treatment of it – both as it played out on the stage and then in her miraculous editing of the footage – are complex beyond belief… Let’s just say that the slippages between reality and fiction that all drama is built around are perfectly distilled into the 50 minutes of Dean’s film.”
Event for a Stage lasts 50 minutes and will be shown at the following screening times. However, because of the film’s complex and emotional trajectory, it is recommended to watch it from the start.
Tuesday to Friday: 11.00am, 12.15pm, 1.30pm, 2.45pm, 4.00pm, 5.15pm.
Saturdays: 11.00am, 12.15pm, 1.30pm, 2.45pm, 4.00pm
Tacita Dean was born in Canterbury in 1965. She has been the recipient of various awards including the Kurt Schwitters Prize in 2009, and the Hugo Boss Prize in 2006. In 2014 she became artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute. Recent exhibitions include JG, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah (2014), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Arcadia University Art Gallery, Pennsylvania (2013), Tacita Dean: The Measure of Things, Instituto Moreira Salles, Rio de Janeiro; Tacita Dean, De Mar en Mar, Botin Foundation, Santander, Spain; Tacita Dean: The Studio of Giorgio Morandi, Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (all 2013). In November 2016 she will have a major solo exhibition at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. The complete series of Hockney’s portraits: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life are on show at the Royal Academy of Arts, London until 2 October 2016.