25 September—9 December 2009
In the Sir Hugh Casson Room for Friends of the Royal Academy
Michael Kidner RA, Untitled, 1966. Oil pastel on paper, 36 x 25 cm. © The Artist, courtesy of Flowers London. A pioneer of Optical Art, Michael Kidner RA has devoted much of his career to developing work of a constructive nature. His interest in mathematics, science and theories of chaos has determined an art that is both formal and playful. The curiosity of his mind is matched by his willingness to accept the unexpected outcome.
This important, mostly unseen body of work consists of a series of carefully considered studies produced in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Some of the works relate to paintings now in important collections, including the Tate and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, while others are developments of ideas. The exhibition comprises four areas of Kidner’s painting practice: After Image, Stripe, Moiré and Wave.
The Wild Folly of my Youth
"From the early 1960s I began to have a new sense of direction in my work. Every painting investigated an issue the exploration of which led to a project or, rather, a series of projects with each emerging seemingly logically from the one before.
"At the same time, all sorts of developments were taking place both in the art world (Pop Art, Op Art, Conceptual Art and happenings) and in world events (ban the bomb marches, the Vietnam War, the downsizing of the British pretensions to international influence) and there was a considerable normative pressure to make an art that reflected one or all of these. This constantly perturbed me, but did not deflect me from my path. I did not know where it would all lead, but I could not do otherwise.
"But what I could not escape was a sense of unease linked with my perception that the discoveries of science had undermined all the certainties associated with a belief in God. I felt that to confront this issue I needed to get a better understanding of the language of science, which everyone agreed was mathematics. For me the use of systematic procedures and, in particular, of waveforms became a way of paddling along the shore of a personal sea of ignorance. At least I was getting my feet wet."
- Michael Kidner, August 2009.
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. In association with Flowers, London
Open to the public daily 4-6pm
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