A visit well worth making is the Jackson Pollock ‘Blind Spots’ Exhibition at The Liverpool Tate.
The gallery itself is an impressive refurbishment from a conventional Victorian warehouse from Liverpool’s dockland past. Surrounded by trendy eateries and gift shops, the gallery is neighboured by the spanking new Museum of Liverpool building and of course the ubiquitous Mersey Ferry now splendidly ‘dazzled’ by Sir Peter Hall with resonances of Sergeant Peppers and the Yellow Submarine.
It takes time and patience to absorb the works on display, to enter into Pollock’s mind-set and become involved in what he was trying to achieve.
Of central consideration is the message of his emphasis of deliberate decisions where and how his drips, splatters and specific brush strokes fell; their harmony and juxtaposition, relationships, contrasts and bonding: rather than thinking his works’ final appearance being merely accidental.
The viewer needs to be alert and allow themselves to be pulled into what they are seeing, indeed to become intimate as they become a part of the picture. After all, Pollock was painting for his spectators, his works being produced for his viewing public and not to simply adorn the privacy of his home or studio.
The viewer should embrace feeling Pollock’s hands as he works, seeing as he saw, to work at his intentions. Pollock does not do it for you, it takes effort to enter into the mind-set that here we have a deliberate conveyance of his conscious movement derived from deep within his subconscious mind.
The debate when looking at his works is the dialectic between his abstract expressionism and clues to many aspects that could be considered figurative. Indeed, many of the images in his ‘Summertime’ could be interpreted as figurative.
The subconscious and conscious mind formulates images, shapes etc in a figurative way. We think in terms of recognisable, identifiable shapes so despite attempts at pure abstraction the brain through the hand creates what the mind sees and that is figurative.
On a simpler level, Pollock’s work is reductive, it rejects illusionistic space, and perspective is not there particularly with his “black” works. However, his use of colour rebounds from this stance and where he uses his blues, reds and yellows, some form of perspectival space is nevertheless created and certainly an intensity is to the fore.
When many of us look at an abstract expression painting our first impulse is to try to identify and interpret figurative elements and Pollock as he moved his arms, hands and body deliberating placing his paint material would have been drawing from his innermost thoughts formulated by recognisable shapes and designs.
When looking at a Pollock in this exhibition the viewer will gain so much more by becoming a part of the picture and hence Pollock and see and feel how he saw and felt and allow themselves to be alert to work at their own involvement.