The work featured in Tacita Dean’s … my English breath in foreign clouds is connected by a theme that sometimes fails to bridge the large variety of media included in the show. The exhibition features films, photographs, prints, drawings and paintings that function as portraits of artists.
A Concordance of Fifty American Clouds is a collection of representations of clouds in a variety of media. The title comes from the book A Complete Concordance to Shakespeare, which is an index of the words, phrases and passages in the works of the author. The visual reference to the clouds relates to the smoke that comes from David Hockney’s cigarettes in Portraits, when Dean filmed the artist smoking in his studio. In Buon Fresco, she recorded Giotto’s frescos in the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Italy, showing details of the painting using a macro lens. In Fifty Photographs, Plus One, Dean documents Cy Twombly’s house and studio in Italy, focusing on details and close ups of furniture, books, and personal belongings instead of open shots of the spaces.
Despite of the beauty of the concept of A Concordance of Fifty American Clouds, the use of spray chalk, white charcoal pencil, and gouache on Victorian school slates as media do not relate to the filmic quality of the rest of the show. There is a rupture in the show because of the difference in texture between the clouds and the rest of the exhibition. Nevertheless, Dean portrays the subtlety of the routine of artists and their work with sensitivity and distinctive articulation.