Monday, November 8, 2010

Off to the Art Gallery...

I spent a lovely afternoon at the Art Gallery of Western Australia with a couple of friends, seeing this exhibition.  I love seeing the work of other artists, it's one of the things that inspires me, and one of the reasons I love the internet, a veritable visual feast available at my fingertips, from all ages and all places.  But nothing can compare with seeing the REAL THING.  There's something wonderful about seeing up close a painting that you've only ever seen in books or on the small glowing screen that's in front of me right now. A small, flat reproduction can't really give you an idea of the texture and the size, the techniques and even the true colours of the original.  So this was a chance to see a favourite artwork 'in the flesh' so to speak, but also the opportunity for surprise, a new artist, a piece you're not familiar with that is arresting and exciting.  This painting, by Max Ernst, has long been a favourite, and I was surprised by its size, it was much larger than I imagined it to be.  And it was a welcome burst of colour in a selection that was largely subdued in darker or neutral tones.

Then we happened upon this one, by William Congdon, an artist I'm not familiar with.  It's a large piece, and all three of us liked this one, spending quite a lot of time looking at it from different angles.  What you can't really appreciate from this small picture is that the artist has laid colours down on the canvas, painted over it in thick black oil paint (and thick cream on the left), then scratched back into the paint to reveal the layer beneath.  What looks at first glance to be fine white detail painted over the black is in fact very loose scratching back.  It gives it a wonderful 3D effect.

On the whole, I was a little disappointed that there weren't more pieces, but I suppose that's the nature of a travelling exhibition of this get a couple of famous 'signature' pieces and lots of less well known works.  But still, an enjoyable afternoon, I love seeing an exhibition with friends, it's always fascinating to discuss (or argue!) which ones we like and which ones we don't.  And I do like eavesdropping on other people's conversations as they look at art, it's fascinating hearing how other people are affected by different pieces, whether they liked them or not and why.  If you're interested, have a look at the official Peggy Guggenheim Collection website, they have lots of wonderful images of the large collection of abstract and surreal art.


WOL said...

I know what you mean about not being able to get a sense of scale from photographs. While photographs enable you to see and appreciate works of art that you would never be able to see in person, there's nothing like being able to see the real thing for yourself. To be able to look more closely at details you have wanted to see but could not in a photograph, and to have that sense of scale and perspective that you can only get by standing in front of it and measuring it against your own body's dimensions. There's a special cachet about the original -- knowing that you are looking at the actual pieces of art that the artists touched and manipulated with their own hands gives you a sense of connection to that artist that you can get in no other way.

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