What an amazing week. My head is full of the most wonderful images. Somehow, I’ve managed to visit four exhibitions this week. Summer seems to be a great time for exhibitions – probably July more than August when people are away on holiday.
Two of them were openings I was invited to attend on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (one of the advantages of working in London in the middle of the week). Both were very different collections, and both by very talented artists. And on Wednesday afternoon, I managed to fit in an impromptu visit to the BP National Portrait Award (how did that come around again so quickly?), and the Armed Forces Art Society exhibition at The Mall Galleries.
Although I would dearly love to include photographs of some of my favourite paintings of the week so I could share them with you, there are copyright questions, so all I can do is show you the loot I brought back in the form of catalogues. Although I haven’t done so in the past, I’ve decided these are worth keeping as great references when they are for an exhibition of an artist I admire. Fantastic inspiration material.
I have, however, put in links to specific paintings where I can find them, and links to the artists’ pages where I can find those.
The Osborne Studio Gallery is showing the work of award winning Russian born artist, Valery Koroshilov until the 4th of August. This artist paints in big bold oils and breaks the rules of composition in some respects. His collection is very personal – paintings of his family – and in many cases, the background isn’t included which has the strange effect of characters seeming to be floating in isolation. But it’s very effective in the way that he’s used it as a mechanism to ensure the focus is entirely on the characters. The collection consists of paintings of his very striking wife and of children at play in the summer. Painted at his summer home on the Island of Samos, they really capture the vibrant light of summer and the carefree feel of holidays at the seaside.
The exhibition of The Armed Forces Art Society is on at The Mall Galleries until this Saturday (July 20th, 2013). Until this week I was unaware of the society so had no idea what to expect. That in itself seemed a good reason to go. The work was diverse in subject and medium. There were a few artists whose work I have seen in other society exhibitions (SWA for example) and there were some paintings I found quite compelling. I’m afraid I ran out of time on this one and didn’t get all the way round, but it was well worth a visit and I will be watching out for their exhibitions in future.
The BP Portrait Award on at the National Portrait Gallery was, as always, surprising in many ways. I have to confess to feeling a bit uncultured when I find myself looking at some of the works and wondering what the judges were thinking when that was included. Clearly, they must have found some merit in the work, but for the life of me, I can’t see what it is with some of them. But equally, I always see a number of works that are fascinating and wonderful in this exhibition. And I always come away thinking how brilliant it would be to be able to paint portraits well. (One day I will be brave enough to try). I’ve also come to the conclusion that I am getting very bored with paintings in which the subjects gratuitously reveal their intimate body parts. I’m not saying I don’t like nudes. Far from it. A well painted nude is always lovely. It’s the paintings that aim to shock that I find boring. They’re not shocking at all – they just don’t say anything interesting. In my view, the artist who has really phenomenal talent manages to show something of the inner person in the eyes, the posture, and the expression on their face. Three paintings really captured that for me this year and I loved every one of them. So much so, that I still want to look at them and have a very clear picture of them in my mind:
- Getting Ready, by Eric De Vree so eloquently captures his son’s quiet determination on the eve of his departure for military service
- Turning Point by Richard Geraint Evans shows the singer’s almost uncontainable joy at her new found success. It’s in her eyes and her smile. I can’t help smiling for her when I see this painting.
- Kholiswa by Lionel Smit is big and bold and speaks to my heart. This is a true South African story of quiet dignity in the face of adversity. The hard life she leads is clearly visible, as is her tiredness. But I also see her love for her children and her willingness to labour for them. His use of blue in the painting is striking and brave. It isn’t something the average artist would do, but it works very well here.
The last of my four exhibition visits was to the opening of the Danielle O’Connor exhibition at Clarendon Fine Art. Danielle’s work caught my eye some time ago when I was walking past the gallery and was so striking, I had to go in at have a closer look. At the time, there were only two of her paintings in the gallery so it was a real treat to go to the opening of her exhibition and see her collection en mass. Toronto-based Danielle manages to fuse her Irish, Canadian and Japanese influences into her big bold abstract florals in the most joyful and extraordinary way. I could write screeds about her work, but I think it’s far more impactful if you simply click this link and have a look at her work yourself. It’s a real immersion in colour and exuberance. Even better, if you can get to London before the 27th of July – go and have a look for yourself.