Art is often a stir of moods and strange contradictions, like life itself.
I saw this complexity during a fun visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla. A major exhibit in the recently reopened, beautifully renovated museum concerns the often experimental artwork of world-renowned artist Niki de Saint Phalle, who spent her last years living in La Jolla. The exhibition is titled Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s. It will be on view through July 17, 2022.
As I walked around several spacious gallery spaces, observing the artist’s sensuous sculptures, and fantastic drawings, and paintings created by shooting guns, I saw joyful, fertile, exuberant life displayed side-by-side with bleak, shattered, debris-filled pessimism. It seemed that positivity was associated with female experience, negativity with modernity. As if the two are absolutely separate.
Niki de Saint Phalle’s female sculpture Nanas dance everywhere one turns, bursting with life. Her large Tirs, or performance art “shooting paintings,” looked to my eye like dead junkyards: rigid, punctured, streaked, drained.
As I gazed at the various artworks, whose elements often seem primordial or mythical, I wondered how seemingly opposed ideas could tangle in the mind of an artist–how paint and gunshots could so easily coexist. Oh, wait. Life and death is the prime subject of art.
Go visit this amazing exhibition of rampant creativity and form your own conclusions!