"PS: Seeing is Believing"

As cryptic as this typewritten phrase on the bottom of an artist’s letter is, it also sums up the striking array and eclectic mix of “Galaxy,” the new BAM/PFA exhibit open since Wednesday.

“Galaxy: A Hundred or So Stars Visible to the Naked Eye” features old and new art in every style you can imagine. Most visitors will be able to recognize pieces by Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock, but there is also an impressive collection of new and local artists, some who even taught at Berkeley. With paintings, photographs, textually-based art, and even motorized sculptures, “Galaxy” is an interesting and engaging exhibit for all levels of art knowledge.

The galleries of the exhibit are arranged in no particular order, a choice that reflected their position in storage. By juxtaposing different time periods, regions of the world and even styles, all visitors can make some of the same “unexpected, often jarring, and occasionally illuminating” observations that director Lawrence Rinder and the rest of the BAM staff made in their research and preparations for “Galaxy.”

The exhibition originally started as a way for Rinder (curator from 1988-1998) to re-familiarize himself with the museum, but it soon grew into a detailed exploration of the art in storage as well as out. Along the way, they discovered interesting anecdotes about many of the pieces. One installation which had been taped up onto wood turned out to be by an influential Polish artist (
Edward Krasinski), and a side-by-side look at two paintings by different artists reveals that the lefthand one is shown hanging on the wall of the painting on the right.

Some other particularly striking juxtapositions include showing a tiny painting of the North Belgium sea right next to a sprawling Rothko of bright red and dark blue, and hanging the Pollack alongside a 15th century Japanese splashed ink landscape. There’s also the “id wall” – as Rinder called it in his curator’s talk – displaying a group of drawings, woodcuts and mixed media pieces from all over the world with the same violent, passionate emotion clear. The exhibit has 156 pieces total, ranging from the 1300’s to today, and spanning three full galleries in the museum.

As interesting as the organization of the galleries is, no work is labeled, making it difficult to look up artist information or learn more about the pieces. Though occasionally confusing, this unusual choice actually makes the exhibit more personal for visitors, as it points out the interesting stylistic similarities between works before revealing the differences. But don’t forget to pick up the gallery guide on your way in; the museum staff’s comments and observations are included with the normal artist facts.

Whether you’re an art enthusiast or just looking for a brief study break,
BAM/PFA’s new exhibit “Galaxy” is sure to provide a fascinating experience for everyone.

The exhibit is open until August 30, 2009, and is free for students.

Picture courtesy of BAM/PFA

Elena Radicati
BARE Assistant Editor

1 comment:

  1. What a great piece. For those of us who aren't JUST into fashion, this is a great branching point for us. Thanks!