Posts made in October, 2016

Abstract Expressionism: The Royal Academy

Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Discussion, News | 0 comments

This is a stunning exhibition at the Royal Academy  : I suddenly understood what Mark Rothko (1903-1970) meant when he talked about the relationship between painting and viewer as ‘a consummated experience between picture and onlooker. Nothing should stand between my painting and the viewer.’ Like one of my tutors who was very sceptical about whether you could think of Rothko as a great artist because his paintings are apparently so simple. I had no more doubts when I saw the Rothko room at the exhibition. His work is powerful and serious. His works are grouped together in a circular gallery and the effect is sombre and all-encompassing. You feel held in the atmosphere created by the paintings and slowly you perceive what they mean to you. I was sad to find out more about Rothko’s life . It started with hardship (in Russia, now Latvia, with persecution as a Jew) and ended very sadly.  He committed suicide, quite unexpectedly though in retrospect his paintings showed the darkness of his mood. After his death, he became clear he had been  swindled by his agent  and many years of legal action followed before the wrong was righted. Many of the abstract expressionists, including Jackson Pollock, died sadly and in a period of personal hopelessness. They were serious about what they were trying to do and it meant much to them so the arid times must have been particularly unbearable.      ...

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Caravaggio Exhibition: The National Gallery

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I went to the members preview of the Caravaggio exhibition on Monday 10th October at The National Gallery – although it was limited admittance it was very full and reviews have suggested it will be the ‘must see’ exhibition of the winter. There are actually only 7 of his works on show; that said these are worth travelling to see in their own right, particularly ‘The Taking of Christ’ where Judas does not quite kiss Jesus and Caravaggio himself looks on in the background, seemingly both horrified and mesmerised. The rest of the exhibition focuses on Caravaggio’s influence on other artists – which was profound – in spite of his jealousy and anger when anyone seemed to copy him in his lifetime.   The darkness of his paintings, the horror and violence of the subjects he chose (Judith and Holofernes, The Beheading of John the Baptist, David and Goliath) reflect the darkness and turbulence of his own life. Caravaggio (1571-1610) had his greatest success in Rome where he was commissioned to paint religious subjects to fill the new Churches and counter the ‘threat’ posed by Protestantism. The naturalism of this paintings – where saints and sinners could be seen as real, living breathing people shocked and thrilled, as they still do today.   With all the court cases, brawls, escapes from goal and trials for murder with which he was embroiled and the shortness of his life, it is amazing that he could achieve everything that he did. A fine exhibition of someone whose influence is clear and unrivalled and still shocks and involves us...

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