The current exhibition at the De La Warr in Bexhill is a must for anyone who is still persists in the traditional art of portrait painting. You can view this fantastic survey of 60 years of film and video portraits (including Sam Taylor Wood’s iconic ‘David’ (2005)) and then ask yourself, ‘why paint?’.
I particularly enjoyed Gillian Warring’s ’2 into 1′ (1997) in which the voice of a mother discussing her relationship with her sons is mimed by the boys and presented as though they are speaking her words. The boys comments about their mother are similarly mimed by her and presented as though she is speaking their words in their voices. The intricacies of familial relationships are explored and exposed in this piece as the reversed conversation wavers between love and hate. The mother, for instance, seemingly belittling herself with the harsh judgement of teenage contempt while the boys speak of their extraordinary beauty and uncontrollable tempers with an unsettlingly calm detachment.
The exhibition is without doubt a curatorial success. The work within it ranges from experimental cinema to documentary, to fictionalised and performative works. There are some big names in the show including work by Warhol, Emin, Gilbert and George and Opie (to name a few) and the exhibition is accompanied by an interesting programme of biographical and character-led films being shown in a cinema space upstairs.