Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 7 London

Handel's Messiah at St Matrtins in the Field

Detail of Vuillard's The Sewing Room at The National Gallery

British Sculpture at tHe Royal Academy

Turner at The Tate Britain

Colours for the Studio Wall courtesy of Turner and the Curator at The Tate Britain

It was “Turner” day at the Tate Britain, so I first saw the “Colours and Light” exhibition in the Turner Galleries, before venturing in to the older section of the gallery and seeing more Turners there. I was impressed by the curatorial effort of displaying the colours that Turner invented for the different areas of his travels –beautiful panels of squares in co-ordinating colours, which I duly photographed for later use in my own studio. Apparently, the artist was quite rigorous in his readings of contemporary colour theory, especially Goethe with whom he was mostly in agreement but also felt a place for intuition, which he duly exercised (and I couldn’t agree more).
The venture into the older British section was rewarded by a really interesting and, in my mind, exceptional painting by Constable (one of the artist, John Virtue’s, favourites – sadly, there were no Virtues to be seen!) and some beautiful Turner paintings which stand the test of time really well. Great to know that he had his major detractors who thought he was painting absolutely nothing – ridiculous waste of talent and paint! – so we can all know that even the best of them were struggling against contemporary opinion of lesser men.
Next it was on to the Modern British Sculpture exhibition at the Royal Academy, with a side serving of “Watteau Drawings”. The early rooms of the Sculpture exhibition brought home wonderfully the influence of primitive art on early 20th Century British art, with an exceptional display of ancient pieces – as far back as 650BC, juxtaposed with sculptures. A truly wonderful and gob-smacking exhibition in many ways. However, as we rose in the floor numbers of the building to times ever closer to our own, the work became more irritating and less visually astounding. And I ‘m not saying that as some kn=d of luddite – a flashing flourescent tube HAS been seen before, folks, and steel bars suspended from the ceiling do not an artwork make! Apart from the always impressive Damien Hirsts and an occasional installation that worked on a visual as well as conceptual level, the exhibition served to show the paucity in selection by the curator (as I subsequently saw many good contemporary sculptures at Saatchi – more later) and the failure in imagination and skills of some of the current band of “New Brits” who will surely be proving, some time soon, that the Emperor does in fact wear no new clothes!
The early disappointment at not seeing any John Virtues at the next stop, the National Gallery (he had a residency there and I was hopeful!) was more than mitigated at the fabulous standard of pre and post Impressionist art – Villard’s The Sewing Room, Van Gogh’s Chair, more Cezannes etc etc. And I neve thought I’d be racing past Velasquez and Rembrandt to be seeing Vermeers! But that I did – and I managed to see all of those artists as well.
I was able to have a little time between the National Gallery closing and my next appointment, so sat on the stairs and drew Trafalgar Square (badly, I’m sorry to say, but enjoyably) and soak in the surging crowds and atmosphere. Then on to the brilliant recital of Handel’s Messiah at St Martins in the Fields, after a quick drink in the Crypt there. I have never even listened to this all the way through, so was transported by the combination of choral work with the strands of a small symphony and the antics of a composer with personality and a sense of humour.
Caught the tube to Westminster and the bus home in a state of bliss.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful to see the Vuillard. Such a colour expert. Enjoy your residency Gabrielle.



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