MK Gallery’s summer exhibition, Cadences (27 June – 7 September 2014), brings together a selection of 40 historical and modern works on loan from one of Holland’s most illustrious collections - the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam - alongside a contemporary film, Flight by Catherine Yass, a British artist who was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2002.
The paintings, prints and ceramics from the museum range from Old Master artists Neri di Bicci, Adriaen Collaert, Hendrick Goltzius, Frans Huys, Willem van Mieris and Crispijn de Passe to Modern artists Constant, M.C. Escher, Lucio Fontana, Bruce Nauman and Bridget Riley.
Many of the works share themes of flight, falling, destruction and gravity. The earliest work in the exhibition, by the Italian Old Master Neri di Bicci, is The fall of the rebel angels with St Michael fighting the dragon, (c.1480). Originally part of a larger alterpiece, it shows angels falling awkwardly from the sky whilst the Archangel Michael vanquishes Satan in the guise of a dragon.
The exhibition also includes various representations of the Greek myth of Icarus, whose wax and feather wings melted when he flew too close to the sun, such as Frans Huys’s Armed Three-master with Daedalus and Icarus in the Sky c.1561-62 and Icarus ,1588 by Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617). Related contemporary works include, Fall 1, Los Angeles (1970) showing the Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader falling off the roof of a house or Tulips (1965), a film from Wim van der Linden’s acclaimed series Sad Movies where a petal falls off a tulip as the soundtrack reaches a climax.
Other works in the exhibition revolve around flight such as Day and Night, 1938, by Dutch graphic artist, M.C. Escher (1898–1972), an optical illusion showing a flock of birds flying in opposite directions: black birds semi-silhouetted by day to the left and white birds by night to the right. Other examples include Bird, 1949, and Wounded Pigeon, 1951 both expressive, naive paintings by Constant A. Nieuwenhuys (1920-2005) and Wassily Kandinsky’s 1930 painting, Launisch of an ambiguous aquatic or air-bound vessel.
Catherine Yass (b.1963) is a leading contemporary photographer and filmmaker, known for her films and light boxes of architectural space and its psychological impact. Her film Flight (2002), created as part of the ‘Artists on Site’ BBC Public Art Programme, was captured in just one take. Attaching a camera to a model remote-control helicopter, it swoops over roof tops, providing a dizzying and disorienting bird’s-eye view of London.
Cadences will be accompanied by a diverse public events programme, including a solo-voice theatre performance by Melanie Pappenheim featuring three songs about hitting the ground. This musical and visual ensemble is co-commissioned by Milton Keynes’ biennial international festival – MKIF 2014 – and MK Gallery.