Soundtrack to an Exhibition: Part 2

By Harry Ewbank

Click here to read the first instalment of Harry’s ‘Soundtrack’; a new way of accessing Modern Art. He’s selected a song for one piece in each of the 13 rooms of the Tate’s permanent exhibition ‘At the Studio’, and written 3 interpretations. Here is the second:

Room 1:

Agnes Martin – Faraway Love

Beyonce – I Miss You

A five foot square with stripes of white and pale blue. The  bands are  distributed across the piece and all outlined in pencil. The pencil lines are drawn as straight as possible but have a clear sense of being hand drawn. Where fibres of the canvas stick out, the pencil lines are distorted and break away from being flawlessly straight. The paint seeps underneath the pencil lines and spreads into the wrong area of colour. These subtle breaks in the piece’s perfection are what Martin finds particularly fascinating. Of this piece, she said:

‘I hope I have made it clear that the work is about perfection as we are aware of it in our minds but that the paintings are very far from being perfect – completely removed in fact – even as we ourselves are.’

Evan P. Cordes via Flickr

Looking at the title (Faraway Love) gives us another insight into what we may take from the art. Love and perfection are often presented as synonyms and can be used interchangeably. From a young age we’ve all been presented with the idea of what love is from fantastic Disney productions. Initially this idea is confirmed when one day someone comes along who just has it all. They’re hot as balls, dish out great chat and seem to understand us on a deeper level. Yet at some point an experience will make us question this perfect image. I’m sure we’ve all been in there when a partner says something off hand and you’re just like: “how could they possibly say that? It’s like they don’t even get me at all”.

The realisation that we cannot and will not be understood by anyone, even someone we love and even ourselves, is a tough pill to swallow and Martin gives us an opportunity to share in this moment. For though we may be ultimately alone, we are not alone in feeling far away from the people around us and there is comfort in sharing that. Martin provides a piece to lament on the idea of feeling distant from the people we love. She strives for perfection and of course occasionally fails. However, she presents these mistakes as small and subtle within the perfection of the whole composition. As much as she helps us wallow in the misery of love’s afflictions, she also allows us to gain perspective of the problems that we are facing. Often, we let our anxieties overwhelm us and so Martin’s piece gently gives us the strength to look forward.

Beyoncé knows as much as anyone about the trials of love and much of her recent album, Lemonade, addresses these issues. In the climax of the album with the song, ‘All Night’, she absolves Jay-Z of his mistakes because she has the emotional maturity to look past his faults and see the beauty in what they had. Since Lemonade isn’t on Spotify, I’ve had to select a different Beyoncé song for the playlist (don’t worry, it’s still a banger).

If you want to check out Harry’s playlist then click on the link here.

Featured photograph: Konrad Lembcke via Flickr

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