To celebrate 50 years and over 700 exhibitions Modern Art Oxford is hosting a series of exhibitions under the title KALEIDOSCOPE. A Moment of Grace, the second installment in this series, draws upon issues of conservation and consumption. A theme which has animated creative production since the 1960s when the gallery first opened, A Moment of Grace considers how different artists respond to the crisis, its politicisation and its unabated perpetuation.
The title of the show derives from the artist Gustav Metzger, who in an interview said that ‘every step in nature is a moment of grace’; here he presents his installation Liquid Crystal Environment, a mesmeric psychedelic series of projections created by directing light through glass slides packed with heat sensitive liquid crystals, which was first shown in the 1960s. Metzger produces his own immersive environment, where colours and shapes glow and morph organically, as if we are observing cells under a microscope.
Yoko Ono, who appeared in Modern Art Oxford’s first ever exhibition in 1966 and who received a retrospective at the gallery in 1997, here returns with Painting to Hammer a Nail, an interactive artwork in which the viewer is invited to hammer a nail into the canvas and thereby to undermine not only the sanctity of the artist, but also their hallowed tools, using instead the mass-produced and the disposable.
More recent work can be seen by the artist Nijdeka Akunyili Crosby whose large scale works combine painting, drawing and collage and who mingles throwaway materials such as newspapers and magazines, with materials of emotional significance such as family photos and online cuttings that consider issues of migration. The work presents traditionally composed figurative scenes with these charged images and texts making up the bigger picture.
A Moment of Grace is a sensitive and understated exhibition that draws together a selection of artists whose multidisciplinary works and the diversity of the sources they respond to reveals the commendably kaleidoscopic variety of the gallery and its history.