Friday, 8 April 2011

Two and a half shows




Today I made a foray into the West End to see two shows I was looking forward to.
William Nicholson's works hang at Browse and Darby while the Avigdor Arikha show is open a short walk away at Marlborough Fine Arts. Both shows are definitely worth a visit.

Nicholson's delightful still-lifes include the frivolous "Miss Simpson's Boots", completed by the very red boots themselves, jugs, flowers, pewter, gloves and all his favourite subjects.


What strikes me about him is how diverse his pictures are: at times his still-lifes and landscapes look as if they were painted by a different person, some are thick, some are thin, some have a large tonal range, others are very close in tone. I would say that what keeps them all together is the choice of colours, a palette of warm neutrals with or without accents of a more chromatic colour.
I enjoyed his loose paint handling and that dryness that I love in British painting.

 Now cross a couple of roads, jump forward seventy years and enter Arikha's show. More still life, more dry, matte paint but a sense of intimacy we never find in Nicholson.


One really has the sense that what is painted is HIS umbrellas, HIS wife, HIS studio. They are paintings of a disarming truthfulness, simple, light yet incredibly intense and charged with emotion.


How curious that on of these painters is "the grandfather of abstractism" by having generated his son Ben, and the other, already a well known artist, has abandoned abstract painting at the age of 36 in favour of painting from life !

Now the half show of the title is one I regretfully cannot see because it is in Rome, I just have the catalogue which, I am told, does not make justice to the paintings. Still the paintings have an immense appeal to me.

I saw a painting by Alessandra Giovannoni at a friends' house a few years ago. I was immediately very taken by it and I was a hundred per cent sure of where it had been painted. 

Giovannoni restricts her painting world to a certain itinerary of her walks in Rome. She mainly paints Villa Borghese, and occasionally other areas on her route from the park to her house. She absolutely has got the genius loci, so much so that looking at the catalogue of the show today my heart ached for how I miss the light in my hometown.
Typically Giovannoni does not have a website  but there is a Flickr album of the show at the Museo Bilotti in Villa Borghese here.



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