Live Your Questions Now
Group show featuring Sam Ainsley, Helena Almeida, Alasdair Gray, Joan Jonas, Ana Jotta, Michael Kidner, Běla Kolářová and Lygia Pape
As a triumphant call to the graces of old age and experience Live Your Questions Now is a survey show reacting to the art world’s obsessive youth fads. The show’s title is derived from a letter seeking guidance from poet Rainer Maria Rilke: ‘live your questions now, and maybe they will lead to answers in later life.’ It’s an apt quote for a show based on older age, setting up the premise of life as a test or question that we can only answer through our own individual actions and creations.
Bringing together eight internationally recognised artists, each working in different styles and contexts, the show is impressively varied. The fact that three out of the eight have all died within the past decade accentuates the age/experience theme.
Ana Jotta’s work stands out as discarded slide projector screens mimicking theatrical displays with varying styles, jumping from cartoon hands and abstract landscape backgrounds to Escher-like eternal ladders mimicking some kind of retirement purgatory. Jotta’s use of line and form complements Alasdair Gray's draftsmanship, his working and reworking of drawings from the 60s and use of monochrome space.
A piece that stands out for its raw emotion is Sam Ainsley’s painting ‘Where there are hopes, there will be fears’. In it are images of human cells and on closer inspection within two cells are the words ‘I am scared’ handwritten over and over again against the printed canvas. Ainsley’s work for this exhibition was inspired in part by her deeply personal reaction to a piece by the celebrated New Zealand artist Colin McCahon. Her unflinching work raises the issue of old age and the path we take after the age of 60: retirement, society’s at times cruel rejection and eventual death. Ainsley comments openly on a theme of ageing and life’s sorrow and beauty.
The exhibition is a celebration of experience and reeks not of an old folk’s home but of tenacity and lives well lived.
Mackintosh Museum, Glasgow School of Art, until Sat 1 Oct