TAKING ART AT ITS WORD
Members of The Racing Club recently relished a private tour of an international exhibition on the fascinating interplay between literate and visual expression
A THREE-DIMENSIONAL rendition of one of the most precious words in the English language – love – has become synonymous with the late American pop artist Robert Indiana. Titled, not surprisingly, Love, the work comprises four letters in different colour variations but always in the Didone type font, with the letter “o” slanting inwards. It was unveiled by the artist – who changed his surname to that of his native state – in 1970 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. And in the five decades since, both sculptural and twodimensional versions have been continuously exhibited around the world. Just as with luxury watches, jewellery, haute couture and gastronomy, art is so much more fully enjoyed when more deeply understood. Although this can be achieved by individual research, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as when listening to a description by an enthusiastic connoisseur – and that’s especially the case with visual art, which, like music, is often open to individual interpretation. A case in point is the guided tour arranged by The Racing Club for its members during the recent Love Long: Robert Indiana and Asia exhibition at the Asia Society of Hong Kong Centre in Admiralty, which really enhanced my appreciation of the 31 pieces on display. For the exhibition, curator Dr Miwako Tezuka posed fascinating cultural comparisons by cleverly juxtaposing Love and other works by Indiana with pieces by eight Asian artists that also play with words. In fact, along with other Racing Club members, I learned how words themselves can inspire visual artists such as Indiana. I also discovered that the Love sculptures – including the Spanish-language version, called of course, Amor – were made of Cor-Ten steel, a metal more rustand weather-proof than most. I found some pieces in the show far more fluid or cursive in their style of execution, and a few works deliberately asked the viewer to take time to decode the word that was written. This was in stark contrast to the immediately readable lettering that typifies those by Indiana and several other artists. Words as art not only made for an intriguing exhibition, but also served as the spark for a few discussions among the other members of The Racing Club who formed our small group – on the power of the written form across fine art, graphics and everyday life in our digital age.
ROBERT INDIANA, THE GREAT LOVE (WHITE/RED/BLUE, 2008), THE GREAT LOVE (RED/BLUE/GREEN, 2008), THE FOUR DIAMOND PING (YELLOW/RED/BLACK, 2002), LOVE (1966/1998) LEFT: A RACING CLUB MEMBER AND GUEST ENJOY A TOUR OF LOVE LONG