Resonance: Two Notes

A rising British contemporary artist Oliver Beer’s exhibition of ‘Resonance Paintings – Two Notes’ was an aspiring series of work illustrating the peaceful coexistence of two artistic elements: music and fine art. His first exhibition in Korea opened in Thaddeus Ropac Gallery Seoul on the 4th of May. I was inspired to see such a seamless transmission of musical memories in the form of art, which is not a common experience.  

This first exhibition in Korea presents a new body of work built around the ideas of duality, fusion and exchange expressed through what he calls ‘the intrinsic relationship between physical form and musical harmony.’ I was really impressed that such fusion could work so beautifully to reinforce each other in its best form. The translation of musical harmony into this visual language is created by subtle geometric blue and white paintings that are soft and relaxing. A sculptural sound installation is also suspended in the center of the gallery space; hung from the ceiling are oriental blue and white vases with microphones in their mouths, which give off ambient sound that further relaxes audience enjoying his work.

Beer’s Resonance Paintings are created by positioning a speaker beneath a horizontally oriented canvas where dry and powdered pigments were brushed on. He used notes from the Resonance vessels which vibrated the canvas and shaped the pigments, illustrating the appearance of sound waves on the surface with undulating geometric patterns that are caught in pace with a unique fixing technique that Beer has developed. I found this technique most interesting as his methods effectively deploy the nature of music to illustrate its characteristics into a beautiful pattern on the canvas. 

The microphones hanging from the ceiling that almost touch the blue-and-white ceramic vessels were silent until I approached and triggered a movement sensor to activate the microphone. From this form of art, I was able to concentrate on the presence of air – its volume and motions – surrounding the work that emitted atmospheric vibrations of different tones. Like the name for this exhibition – Resonance Paintings – the artwork was a wonderful collaboration between the 2 art forms: music and fine art. I was fascinated to realize how music could directly be applied to produce such terrific paintings.

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