Keith Tyson: Cloud Choreography

Heading over to Parasol unit for the preview of Keith Tyson’s new show Cloud Choreography and Other Emergent Systems on Tuesday night was a pleasant interlude in an otherwise very long, very busy and rather stressful week.

This was my first visit to Parasol unit, and I enjoyed peeping into the wet garden, complete with green lily pool, and standing in the outdoor marquee listening to the rain drumming on the roof. What’s more, this new exhibition from the winner of the 2002 Turner Prize is itself a particularly enjoyable one, bringing together two different groups of Tyson’s work in an intriguing exploration of the artist’s systems and processes.

The first group of works features pieces that engage with and reflect natural processes and physical forms, ranging from as series of works rendered on large-scale aluminium sheets that have been treated with chemicals, resulting in the creation of beautiful, swirling, multi-coloured patterns, to a new series of works entitled Cloud Choreography representing the abstract shapes of cloud formations.

A second group of works focuses particularly on mathematical and process-driven systems, including sculptures from the Fractal Dice series, and a number of paintings that incorporate bizarre pseudo-scientific equations, in which mathematical formulae are jumbled together with mundane representations of ordinary life, from chairs and buckets to pigeons.

Taken together, these two groups of work reflect Tyson’s ongoing interest in introducing elements of chance, risk and randomness into his artwork, as well as his evident desire to disturb notions of ‘natural’ aesthetic beauty versus the scientific, drawing into question the very nature of the artwork itself. Through his practice, the artist appears to be undertaking an unconventional investigation of the world around him, becoming a kind of ‘mad scientist’ figure who attempts to discover the secrets of the universe through a whole series of fascinating yet utterly baffling processes and experiments. Exuberant and inventive, this quirky exhibition is well worth a look.

[Image: Mathematical Nature Painting: Nested, Keith Tyson, 2008 via Parasol unit]