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Black Light. Secret traditions in art since the 1950s

  • Art
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Antoni Tàpies
Antoni Tàpies

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Are you a fan of the show 'Supernatural'? Do you find those tests for colour blindness irresistibly pleasing? Do you say no to smoking joints but you love a bit of ayahuasca now and then? Then 'Black Light' is the exhibition for you!

You can take this exhaustive exhibition at face value, as its title indicates, 'Secret traditions in art since the 1950s', or you can wind your way through the corridors of the CCCB as if you were in a supermarket that sells esoteric, psychedelic, alter-anthropological and highly countercultural art.

The show, arranged in a more or less chronological order, features incredibly intriguing pieces by renowned artists such as Barnett Newman, Agnes Martin, Henri Michaux, Antoni Tàpies, Joan Ponç, Zush (now Evru), Joseph Beuys, and Frencesco Clemente, and experimental cinematographers such as Harry Smith, Jordan Belson, Derek Jarman and Alejandro Jodorowsky. There are also finds like the self-taught and solitary Forrest Bess, a Texan fisherman obsessed with hermaphroditism; diagrams by the father of anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner; excellent paintings by William S. Burroughs, one of the original members of the Beat generation; and the extravagant Sun Ra, a pioneer of the improvisation jazz collective.

Be dazzled by Brion Gysin's 'The Dream Machine', an apparatus that projects stroboscopic light and, if you're patient enough, you might experience a kind of hallucination. Gysin is known for having come up with the cut-up technique, cutting texts into strips and reordering them randomly to create literary collages. Also head into isolation in Tania Mouraud's 'Initiation Room No. 2'. 

With the accumulation of visual, sound, and spatial experiences in artworks prone to 'horror vacui', and colours that are either phosphorescent or just extremely bright, can be overwhelming to some. One thing's for sure with this exhibition: you won't be bored.


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