Magnificent ode to the sea
An artist must have what it takes to make my mouth drop open. With his video work The Raft Bill Viola did just that. I was intrigued by the film that at first moves slowly, before it unexpectedly erupts like a storm. I watched it over and over again.
The impressive film is just one of the many appealing works in the nothing less than fantastic exhibition Havet in art museum Brandts in Odense. The remarkably complete show – with works ranging from classical paintings to contemporary installations – is a magnificent ode to the sea (havet in Danish).
A curator of an exhibition about the sea can get away with just fine paintings of sailing ships. Those alone will do the trick. But Brandts took it a step further. It made a complete boat appear, as well as a raft, as part of a video installation. Details such as these provide the exhibition with the right atmosphere.
Of course Havet shows plenty of paintings of ships, manned by fishermen, or at war. In an empire that consists of more than four hundred islands, the sea is never far away and to Danish painters the big pond was and is therefore an obvious subject. They depicted ships in storms, boats in calm waters, or just the sea itself in all its majestic glory.
Most pieces date from the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, but even today the sea inspires artists. That’s why the Danish museum also made a fine selection of contemporary works. In contrast to the older paintings most of the newer works were not made by Danish artists. The most famous name in the contemporary part of the show is Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist. The images in her somewhat surrealistic underwater film Sip My Ocean are accompanied by a deliciously out of tune version of Chris Isaac’s song Wicked Game.
The singing sometimes drowns the rattling of Jacob Hashimoto’s Armada. The giant installation consists of many small wooden sailing ships that, thanks to a mechanism hanging from the ceiling, all move up and down. The ingenious work catches the eye and is popular with both adults and children.
For even younger museum guests do not get bored in Brandts, if only because of the ships in bottles. With a perfectly balanced mix of objects, the exhibition appeals to a wide audience. Only those who really do not like the sea, might be better off somewhere else. But to others Havet is cultural entertainment of the highest order.
Havet, until March 1, 2015 in Brandts, Torv 1 Odense, Denmark