Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tales of the Unexpected

Of the many images in the current Gaugin exhibition at Tate Modern, I was particularly struck by this Still Life with Profile of Laval, 1886.

The painting bears many of the hallmarks of Cezanne, with touches of Degas. The complementary colours of the fruit mean the red ones project forward, and they are arranged purposefully but oddly. The curious pot on the table seems to be one of Gaugin's; the painting was of a fellow artist at Pont Aven, when Gaugin was producing pottery as well as paintings. The intense and close gaze of Laval seems oddly directed while the pot's vacuous opening pulls the gaze.

Blockbuster exhibitions carry a message - volume diminishes the impace. Each painting was fascinating, wonderful colours, although many of the Tahitian ones are really quite dark, and warranted thought and careful observation. But the quantity, combined with the thematic lessened the overall impact. A previous visit to the Courtauld, spending many minutes in front of Nevermore was far more rewarding than the whole of the show here. 

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