Artist Rooms: Jenny Holzer – Blue Purple Tilt
Neon fly posting arrests the eye as you venture into Talbot Rice, the gritty and harrowing statements creating a sense of nervous expectation. The main room displays several of Holzer’s large-scale paintings depicting declassified US military documents. These resemble giant photocopies against softly graded oil backgrounds, but the faded texture of some of the documents adds to the authenticity of the source material. They are perhaps best viewed from above where you appreciate the scale of the operations.
Holzer’s best-known body of work, ‘Truisms (1977-79)’, contains short statements such as ‘The desire to reproduce is a death wish’, originally distributed on T-shirts, posters and LED screens in New York much as modern marketing messages are. This particular piece really needs more than a passing glance to process the pithy power of the epithets.
The contrast between the text-heavy pieces and the painting-led work is well done, with the next room up the stairs returning to the abstract and minimalist via oil on linen in works such as ‘b.1 1.4 or b.7(q)’. Finally, a mesmerising balcony view of ‘Blue Purple Tilt’ caps off an interesting and often thought provoking collection that builds on Holzer’s earlier text-based work and leads the eyes on a merry downward dance as you endeavour to take everything in.
Talbot Rice Gallery, until Sat 15 May