In the current circumstances, there is something spooky about the eerily-empty aircraft cabin, clean and pristine, but empty of passengers, with the cabin windows having their blinds half up and half down, a situation which recently airlines found themselves experiencing as they flew empty planes around the world to maintain airport landing slots, which just illustrates some of the madness of 21st century economics. Did German artist Isa Genzken have a premonition of where we would all be only two months after the Private View of her latest exhibition at Hauser & Wirth London, now closed along with other galleries in London and elsewhere in the UK in response to the current pandemic. The moral of the story is to visit exhibitions as soon as you can, within hours or days of opening……
Genzhen’s theme is windows, which you might extend to those unfortunate souls on cruise liners floating across the seas between countries which would not allow them to berth. What would passengers have thought as they looked out through the porthole windows as harbours came into view and then disappeared into the mist. It is a sad reflection on what is supposed to be one of the greatest and most advanced nations in the world that the USA denied berthing to the recent Fred Olsen cruise ship while Cuba (which may well have a better healthcare system than in the USA) took them in and facilitated the passengers’ journeys back home.
The theme continues beyond the central aircraft cabin to interesting architectural works with a focus on windows which, in this case, looked out through the gallery windows to the adjacent Mayfair streets, now deserted.
In the adjacent gallery was something entirely different, work from the last decade of the life of Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow (1926-1973), an artist who deserves to be better known in this country. As with many Poles, especially one born to German parents, she had a troubled early life, but her art blossomed as political circumstances changed. Sadly Szapocznikow was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1969, though we can see the influences in a last flourishing of her work before she died in 1973. Her work is fascinating, with a Surrealist edge, and you are left wondering what she would have achieved if she had lived longer.
As with all London galleries, Hauser & Wirth in Savile Row is now closed, though the good news on the international front is that Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong is now open by appointment and galleries are finding ways of continuing in a digital format through viewing rooms, as this week at Art Basel Hong Kong.