EXHIBITIONS Oct 2015 – Jan 2016
AI WEIWEI exhibition
RA Oct 2015
This was an experience not to be missed. I went along not having very much background information about this important artist and not expecting to enjoy it. One of the reasons for this is that I have never engaged with the strong links that sometimes happen between politics and art. However this exhibition completely changed my viewpoint.
Visually the exhibition was stunning. Most of the works are very large and have powerful visual impact. This is Ai Weiwei’s first major survey in the UK. From the start the viewer is confronted with pieces whose impact goes far beyond the visual. In their presence you cannot help being drawn in to the events which have led to their creation. The information on the wall and the audio guide’s commentary provide excellent background plus the videos of the artist speaking about his motivation and ideas. The video in room 3 accompanying the piece entitled The Wave was particularly powerful in its coverage of the victims from the recent earthquake… and the subsequent response from officials concerning the causes of the huge death toll. It was very difficult to watch the images but it gave real meaning and power to the huge sculpture in the room.
There was real involvement from the many people who were visiting the exhibition and a sense of quiet contemplation. It was impossible not to feel this. This artist was opening our eyes to events and practices which needed to be seen and he was using art in a way which I had never experienced before.
Queen’s Gallery Oct 2015
This exhibition dealt with the Queen’s collection of paintings of gardens.
GOYA: The Portraits
National Gallery November 2015
The portraits of Goya are not my favourite subject to go and see but I went along to the National Gallery nonetheless because I’ve found that sometimes it’s the exhibitions which I don’t want to see that end up being the most thought provoking. This was no exception!
I admit to knowing little about Goya and so the acousti-guide was necessary. This provided me with information about the people in the portraits which of course was interesting. However it was the fact that Goya is considered to be one of the greatest portrait painters which has given me so much to think about and that he was uncompromising in his depiction of the character of his sitters. I just couldn’t see this! Looking at many rooms full of these very large paintings of individuals, I struggled to see the brilliance of his work. The technical skill is without question and I was intrigued with his use of brush strokes in the clothing which seemed almost impressionistic at times, in particular in the painting of Ferdinand the 7th. Since the exhibition I have spent some time revisiting some of the paintings on the National Gallery’s website to see this “new realism where there is no flattery”. I wonder if I am not being diverted by the portraits of Rembrandt who was painting almost 100 years before – they are some of my favourite works of art in which the physical and psychological aspects of the sitters are clearly depicted and in some way revered by the artist.
I think I shall have to find the time to revisit this exhibition – perhaps at a time when it is less busy and one is not fighting to see the paintings!
RA December 2015
Extraordinarily fine paintings in pastel – Swiss artist in the 18th century