‘Lightness & Gravity’ showcases the Gallery’s contemporary art collection in a series of thematic constellations, and features several major recent acquisitions.
The title of the display points to a longstanding philosophical discussion on the fundamental character of existence — and, by extension, the nature of art-making — as weighty, meaningful and constrained by history, or as playful and arbitrary, and thereby free.
The idea for ‘Lightness and Gravity’ emerged from a process of tracing shared themes across seemingly disparate areas of the collection while also reflecting on literary approaches to the question of weight or lightness. In his Six Memos for the Next Millennium (1988), Italian writer Italo Calvino identifies lightness with mobility, subtlety, precariousness and freedom, and heaviness with inertia, opacity, sluggishness and density. Czech author Milan Kundera asks if heaviness is necessarily deplorable and lightness splendid when he discusses these terms in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984). He suggests that a heavy burden may also be ‘an image of life’s most intense fulfilment’; with the lack of a burden comes the ability ‘to soar into the heights’, but this may be a meaningless freedom.
The works in ‘Lightness & Gravity’ variously engage with these opposing impulses. Some mediate between them and gesture to elemental forces beyond the human question of life’s weight and meaning.
We were particularly pleased to be able to include two works by Argentinian artist, Marina de Caro, which travelled to the Gallery directly from their display in the 11th Biennale of Lyon. These will now be proposed for acquisition. In this image we can see conservators preparing de Caro’s sculpture Seed men or the Myth of the possible 2011 for display.