Exhibition Studio Workshop | Work from the Collections #6 – BLUE TO BLUE

18 November – 18 December 2015

Exhibition Studio Workshop E101, Chelsea College of Arts, London

Curators: Benedetta Turlon, Chanchan Liu, Chong Liu, Giovanni Rendina, Kinga Szlama, Qingfang Li, Rui Pan

Conceived and curated by a group of seven MA Curating and Collections students, Blue to Blue explores the process that lead the two artists Derek Jarman (1942 – 1994) and Yves Klein (1928 – 1962) to the understanding of the void through the use of blue. Our aim is to offer an original glimpse into the vastness of void as both a physical and abstract space.

Derek Jarman, "Blue", 1993

Derek Jarman, “Blue”, 1993

The main idea for the exhibition came from Derek Jarman’s Blue film dated 1993, which directly links to Yeves Klein’s patented IKB (International Klein Blue). He was losing his sight while making this film, and this influenced significantly the choice of using a monochrome screen to identify his actual state of living in a world with no images.

As we watch the blue screen, we leap into the big void created by Jarman’s minimalist practice of cutting out any image.

A fragment of the test reel of the Blue in the centre of the main wall, surrounded by eight scans of Jarman’s notebook Almost Bliss, communicates the contemplation of the filmmaker giving an insight into the creative process of the movie. The facsimiles provide a deeper understanding of Jarman’s diverse production as painter, poet and filmmaker.

Yves Klein’s work and life were influenced by both Western and Eastern culture. The long practice and his deep understanding of Judo, lead the French artist to rid his painting from any superficial feature which were locking his canvases into the world of shapes and lines. Gradually, Klein’s work went through monochromes, and blue became the colour that allowed the most powerful effect on the visitor.

“Blue has no dimensions. It is beyond dimensions, while the other colors have some.

Those are psychological spaces. Red, for example, presupposes a heart giving off heat. All colors bring forth associations of concrete, material, and tangible ideas, while blue evokes all the more the sea and the sky, which are what is most abstract in tangible and visible nature”.

Klein, Yves 1928 – 1962 Dépassement de la problématique de l’art et autres écrits, translated by Ottmann Klaus in 2007

One of the three prayers Yves Klein wrote for Saint Rita of Cascia in 1961 envelops the Western aspect of the artist’s spirituality, and it gives us the opportunity to understand the importance that both art and Saint Rita’s worship had in his life.

The three glass vitrines are left empty in the spirit of Yves Klein’s visionary exhibition Le Vide (The Void), which took place on 28 April 1958 at Galerie Iris Clert in Paris. Le Vide represented the apotheosis of Klein’s whole thought and on this occasion he showed the void as the perfect expression of artwork like a concept rather than a physical thing.

A showcase of books about the two artists’ ideas on colour, perception and void closes the chain leading to the finale of Blue to Blue.