TATE OP PARTY: A World in Motion

The TATE OP PARTY was exactly as its name suggested; bold, exciting, fun, and presented mind-bending art. Although the idea of abstract optical art can be often dismissed as ‘simple’ (in comparison to the likes of Renaissance art, or even L.S. Lowry), op art is carefully and delicately constructed to create pieces that seemingly move and trick your mind.

On the opening night of this new exhibition, music coincided with the artwork itself. Both established and emerging DJs, Breakwave, Space Afrika, and Jon K. Blurring brought together the likes of techno, dubstep, and acid infused house, which created a strong atmosphere – an experience where visitors were taken on a visual and audible journey.

From any perspective in the room, it was clear to see people stood intently listening, appreciating and making sense of the music.

Continuing upstairs, more attendees were encapsulated by dancers exploring motion and emotion. Again, this added to the experience, but more subtly told their mesmerised audience that art is created in very different forms, but are all united under common themes. Art is accessible to everyone, in every way.

Next door to the silent dancers was a world of creative chaos. Children and adults, all creating artwork in black and white, from political messages, to doodling for fun. Pin badges were created, vinyl labels spun, and large sheets of paper covered in ink.The collaborative pieces allowed everyone to have a voice; a message to share. From the political happenings in England to America, to racism and hate, to free-flowing doodles with a message of love. The ability to draw did not matter, but the message and the community it created did. 

From trance-like states downstairs, people remained in a trance as they made their way upstairs, trying to comprehend the visual tricks that the Tate had presented in this new collection spanning from 60s psychedelic to the present. From the multi-coloured floor (seemingly shaped by its surroundings), to light-boxes, to the art that adorned the walls itself. Tate continues the endeavour to present art in new and exciting ways, and this visual experience is a large stride in the right direction, yielding a dynamic audience.

Artworks include the likes of Walter Leblanc’s 1960 ‘Mobilo Static’, as well as Bridget Riley’s 1965 works, ‘Fragments’. Riley only used black and white for ‘Fragments’, and is screen-printed on Perspex, to which the Tate states ‘Riley was clearly interested in setting a dense black image upon an intensely white and brilliant surface.’ What is accomplished is the ability to take what initially seems like a simple concept and create motion within art, without the need of outlines for excessive detail, or even colour. What is accomplished is a bold and static statement, which is actually fluid.

Following the Roy Lichtenstein pop art exhibition, op art seems the next logical step for the Tate. It inspires a new wave of people, gains new interests from those who may walk away, and engages them. It inspires creativity. It demonstrates that art can take many forms, and it isn’t just an old ideology of elitists viewing portraits. You cannot compare Lowry to Rosetti to Riley, but that doesn’t mean they cannot sit along side each other.

Op Art in Focus is on display at Tate Liverpool now through to July 5th 2020. Entry is free.

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