This show, LA Exuberance, contained works made while Tacita Dean was living in LA, alongside a film made in Sydney, Australia in 2015. The stand out works for me were her cloud drawings on slate. She seems to have intended these as partners for the LA Exuberance series of lithographs of clouds and vapour trails on a sky blue background. These are very lovely and the gallery notes remind us that they ‘are drawn and not photographic and their apparent simplicity beguiles their labour.’ But we surely can’t be asked to admire them because of the labour involved?
The slate drawings, by contrast, embody an essential tension between the materials and the permanence of the images and the subject which is transient. They are made with spray chalk, which I hadn’t heard of before, and perhaps this is the effect of that medium: as though a cloud of chalk has literally just touched and settled on the surface and is now held there. Sometimes in the prison of a grid that Dean has added.
While she was in LA, she also made a film, Portraits, of David Hockney smoking five cigarettes. It turns out that watching someone smoke is really quite dull even if the someone is David Hockney.