Roman Opałka: The End is Defined and Darren Almond: Present Form, Christie’s Mayfair, 103 New Bond Street, London, W1, until 18th April 2015
This is an exhibition that addresses the perception and measurement of time, the finite and infinite.
ROMAN OPAŁKA (1931 – 2011) Opałka 1965/1-∞ Détail 918,554 – 943,954 oil on canvas 77 ⅛ x 53 ⅛ in. (196 x 135 cm.) Courtesy Archives of the Artist
It is fifty years since Roman Opałka (1931-2011) painted his first Détail work where by painting a white figure 1 in the top left-hand corner of a black background he started counting towards infinity. Each work had a one more percent of white pigment so that by 2008 he achieved his aim of a totally white canvas when he surpassed 5 million. He continued in a world of white until his death in 2011. The last number he recorded was 5,607,249.
ROMAN OPAŁKA (1931 – 2011) Opałka 1965/1-∞ A pair of portrait photographs gelatine silver print (detail) 77 x 53 in. (196 x 135 cm.) Courtesy Archives of the Artist
With each canvas he both took photographic self-portraits and recorded his voice for as he said ‘The end is defined by the death of the artist. Death as an instrument (organ) of finitude, of the work of a lifetime, in the form of the Détails, the paintings that branch off from the single, overall work: Opałka 1965/1-∞.’ But of course the paintings live on beyond the finality of the artist’s demise as does the count towards infinity.
DARREN ALMOND Perfect Time (8 x 3) 2012 Twenty four synchronized digital clocks 44 ⅞ x 35 x 5 ⅛ in. (114 x 89 x 13 cm.) Courtesy of Jay Jopling, White Cube
London-based artist Darren Almond (b. 1971) says ‘I’m fascinated by the idea that whenever anything seems too far away we turn to numbers. We’ll say: a million, billion, trillion, but we can’t really grasp the actual scale of them I’m naturally drawn to numbers…I love the abstract quality of maths and the idea that within the abstract realm everything needs to be in balance. You need to have nothing otherwise you can’t have anything.’
DARREN ALMOND (b. 1971) Present Form: Ein 2012 119 ½ x 71 ¼ in. (303.5 x 181 cm.) set of 5 photographs edition of 1 plus 1 AP Courtesy of Jay Jopling, White Cube
He explores the context of time through photographs (Present Form), sculptures (Apollo), the two paintings each entitled Chance Encounter and two flip-style jumbled clocks – Perfect Time. While the two paintings and clocks are reminders of our obsession with time and schedules in this technological age, the photographs of the ancient standing stones on the Isle of Lewis and the Apollo sculptures reflect the timelessness of the landscape and the heavens.