Saturday, 12 September 2009

Art Overdose

We went on a cultural weekend, my friend and I. First visit was to Pallant Art Gallery in Chichester. It is not the greatest of spaces with seven galleries being too grand, rooms is better, leading off a central galleria. However, the lighting is sensitive and the content worth the visit.

In the galleria hung the standing exhibition of Modern British Art: The First 100 Years - based on the assumption the art in Britain ended some time around 1977. Work by Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, Richard Hamilton, and Eduardo Paolozzi took me back to the days when my hair reached my shoulders.

Examples from four artists under the title of The Scottish Colourists were exhibited in three rooms. It was interesting in that it demonstrated the extent to which landscape influences the palette.

I always associate Scottish Art of the late 19th, early 20th century with tertiary colours, reflecting the heather, moors and peaks of the Highlands. It was notable in several works on show; however, when the artists make their obligatory trip to France, they choose a primary-based palatte, influenced, no doubt, by the Impressionists but also by the fact their usual choice would be totally inappropriate. One painting stood out; washed-out in tone, it was a view of the corner of a white-washed building under the shadow of a tree. It so well expressed the feeling of torpid heat, one could smell the very individual fragrance of over-heated air.

The last exhibition we visited was Outside In, examples of Art Brut or Outsider Art, executed by those historically associated with the fringes of society - prisoners, drug and alcohol abusers, those with mental illness or learning difficulties…

The theme of most of the work was as might be expected - alienation, despair, loneliness - but some art transcended those bonds and was truly outstanding.

The following day we went to the Church of All Saints, Tudely, near Tonbridge in Kent; a small jewel box of a church blessed with stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. My companion has blogged on the history behind the commission, I shall just offer you these images:

You can see what I mean by the jewel box effect. The church is simply painted in white with no other decoration to clash with the windows.
All the windows are predominately blue, reflecting, perhaps, the drowning of Sarah d'Avigdor-Goldsmid for whom the windows were commissioned as a lasting memorial. The only two windows that are immediately optimistic in colour values stand either side of the entrance.


JJ Beattie said...

Oh my... you've taken me right back. When I was at art college doing my foundation course, I did my extended essay on that very window in Tudely Church. (It's about ten miles away from my parents' house) Your photos really do it justice.

I really like what I've seen of 'outsider' art.

Lethe said...

Outside In sounds like something I would have especially enjoyed . . . I've always had an affinity to Outsider Art . . .

I know what you mean with art overdose. too much visual stimulation, reminds me of when my parents used to take us to a gazillion museums when we were younger . . .

Now I can take my time and see one museum at a time. Improves the experience.


DOT said...

Wow, JJ, small world. I'd love to learn of what you wrote. Sue and myself spent sometime debating the significance of the figures represented.

Lethe: I know what you mean about Outsider Art, but I do find it, like much amateur art, lacking in direction. The talent is there, the thought not. Though, as I said, there were exceptions.

As for Art O/D I am 100% with you. When I go to galleries, I keep my eyes shut until I am at the images I want to see or I have a headache for the rest of the day.

Beverly Kaye Gallery said...

Sorry the outsider art exhibition you attended did not satisfy you on the whole. True outsider art (artbrut art) is creation in it's most direct and uninhibited form. It's creators are driven to produce work which is very focused, often to the point of obsession. I suggest a copy of Raw Vision magazine, or better yet a visit to the Collection L'Artbrut in Switzerland where the greatest works are shown. Keep on's worth it!

DOT said...

Thanks for the comment, Beverly - I presume.

It is not a question of satisfaction, much of what I saw was technically and creatively very powerful.

It is a question of message. I recognise the therapeutic value of all art on the creator and its viewers, but that which seperates great art from average lies not in sympathy but in revelation.

ChrisH said...

I love that Chagall window and was up in Edinburgh in March this year so was introduced to Scottish Colourists - also really liked seeing John Bellaney's work.