Richard Tuttle: I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language. Review

Richard Tuttle: I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language.

Upon entering the first room of the exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, the work appears to be concentrated towards the left hand side of the room. Initially you are drawn in by the large structure in the centre of the room. The bold colours of the piece “Systems VI,” 2011 are very eye catching and the piece draws your attention away from the other pieces of work. The piece consists of simple shapes forming the resemblance of a textiles loom from the late 19th/early 20th century. The colours are not consistent with this, rater they resemble the colours of the material used on the instrument (wool). The placement of the sculpture seems insensitive, as if it has just been placed for convenience rather than carefully curated. The addition of the barrier dictates the angle of viewing and removes the viewer from the work, its appearance suggests the potential to interact, which can not be achieved.

Systems vi -richard tuttle

Richard Tuttle “Systems VI” (2011)

In contrast to the the garish and eye catching sculpture, on the right wall, there is a collection of easily missed “Wire Sculptures”. It is easy to walk straight past them whilst admiring “Systems VI” 2011. The only thing that alerts you to there presence is the rope barrier on the  floor, unlike in “Systems VI” the addition of this barrier aids the viewing of the work. Once these sculptures are viewed they become very engaging the subtle lines of the wire mimic those of a simple line drawings. The intricate sculptures consist of three forms of line, that in the most part all stem from the points the wire intersects the wall. These forms of line unify the conceptual and the material. In addition to the wire lines you see drawn lines, which at first glance appear  to be translations of the  wire but upon further inspection you see that the form of the line has little correlation to that of the wire. The lines are broken and wobbly almost childlike in nature, different to the smooth lines of the wire. This childlike scrawl and the use of the wall as a surface reminds you of the unwanted graffiti of I child presented with both pencil and wall.

The final form of line is created thanks to heavy spot lights, that cast a shadow of the wire, this creates distorted translation of the wire, which coupled with the drawn pencil lines creates an intricate sculptural drawing. This sculpture is subjective to the view point and addition of light sources.

Wire sculptures -Richard tuttle

Richard Tuttle “Wire sculptures”

Moving upstairs, the more subtle pieces are in abundance. Personally I find them more interesting, the fact they are so simple and un-intrusive, yet hold powerful philosophical questions. As seen in “3rd Rope Piece” 1974, one of Tuttle’s earlier pieces consisting of a very short length of rope simply nailed to the wall with one nail through the centre The length of rope is so minuscule that it calls  into question the accuracy of calling it a rope. Potentially it could be called a piece of rope? Can it be called a rope if it can not be used as one? It has the make up of a rope and all the components. Apply the same principles to something else, lets say a leg: we would still call a leg a leg if it was broken, so why not a rope? When does a rope become a piece of rope? 

3rd rope piece richard tuttle

“3rd Rope Piece” 1974

The overall exhibition lacked fluidity for me. Links between the pieces in each room were tenuous, if only that they were at compleat juxtaposition like with “Systems VI” and “Wire Sculptures.” Although the placement gave great contrast between the big, bold nature of “Systems VI” and the subtlety of “Wire Sculptures” became quite unsettling. Where this could have been used to enhance the experience of the exhibition, the curation seemed almost clumsy as is the positioning and placement of the work was purely determined by where it could fit.


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