Modigliani at Tate Modern

This exhibition has many well known pictures. At times the faces of the portraits have a cartoon like style. They seem to bear only limited resemblance to the sitters. The nudes are generally the largest images and there is an amazing orangeness to their flesh. Well worth experiencing the 3D VR visit to Modigliani’s studio.

Seurat to Riley – The Art of Perception

This small exhibition at the Holburne Museum Bath is more Bridget Riley and her peers than Seurat – there are only two of his pictures. On a number of the perceptually challenging pictures such as this one, you are invited to experience the sensation of colours appearing or a sense of movement. This does happen some of the time and it may be one needs to stare for longer for the brain to be fooled. I preferred some of the powerful colour grids that give a strong but misleading sense of 3D.

Grayson Perry at the Arnolfini Bristol

There’s only one Grayson Perry! An extraordinary free exhibition with mostly very recent creations. Dominated by very large tapestries such as this one which is about 12 feet across and his large pots glazed with photos and inscribed with words. Includes two pots, one based on input from ‘Remainers’, and the other on ‘ Leavers’. Nothing I would want on my wall or in my house but all items are meant to challenge.

The Birth of the Art Market

This exhibition in the Bucerius Kunst Forum in Hamburg is quite a jumble. No way of walking around it and seeing paintings that belong together. The numbering has no coherent order! However it does show many Dutch works from the seventeenth century, including some by Rembrandt and Ruisdael. It also describes how artists played the market by producing large numbers of tonal paintings which could be painted so quickly. Not many I really liked but ‘The artist in his studio’ by Adrian van Ostade shows how it was done in those days . Another painter Jan Weenix specialised in dead rabbits! Always in the same posture! I say …once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all!

Kaffe Fassett at Mottisfont

Kaffe Fassett’s exhibition can only be described as a riot of colour. There are many different examples of his work, from quilts to pullovers  and a wing back chair in needlepoint. His blending of different colours and patterns that do not necessarily repeat themselves where you expect them to makes the exhibits stimulating. Apparently all the background walls had to be repainted to his specifications in order to show the works at their best. Well worth visiting.

Cezanne Portraits at The National Portrait Gallery

Madame Cezanne in a Yellow Chair

I’ve just been to the Cezanne Portraits exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery. Quite a treat! Most impressive for me has always been the picture of his wife Hortense Fiquet, ‘Madame Cezanne in a red armchair ‘.

Surprisingly it is not a very large canvas, unlike ‘Madam Cezanne in a red dress’, however it is Cezanne’s construction of areas of colour that is so impressive with blocks of diagonal brushwork in small patches of different shades.

A trip down the River Test

Throughout 2017 a group of us have been painting at monthly intervals down the River Test in Hampshire. We started as close to the source as we could near Ashe, just beyond Overton, and proceeded down towards the sea.

Most recently we stopped at Testwood where the old bridges across the river still stand alongside the modern concrete bridge carrying the dual carriageway. The view north was of salt marsh and a great swathe of reeds punctuated by lines of pylons; south through the modern bridge we could see the heaps of containers on the massive ships docked at Southampton.

It was the day of the red sun, and at midday the sky went black, causing the street lights to all switch on. After lunch Testwood nature reserve provided views of ancient oaks and open lakes.

Seeing Singer Sargent’s watercolours

A Siesta, John Singer Sargent, 1907

I recently went to the Singer Sargent watercolours exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery. It was packed with people in the run up to the closing day. His pictures are powerful with rocks and scenery of the middle east capturing the sun and heat so well.

Most moving were the WW1 pictures of troops and the star of the show his picture of The Girl beneath the Umbrella. Tragically she was later killed in Paris by a German shell.