5 things to do in London this week, December 8
1. Giovanni Battista Moroni and the Royal Academy
The Royal Academy have done it again as they present the painting of Moroni as the work of a mysteriously underrated artist. The artist’s hometown was Albino in the region of Lombardy, which he did not much venture out of. Because of this he did not achieve national fame during his lifetime, and was not included in Vasari’s Lives of the Artists – arguably the first example of Art History, and certainly our first point of reference for understanding the Italian Renaissance.
However, Moroni’s portraits are ceaselessly intriguing and painted with great mastery. His sitters were mostly middle class individuals from his hometown, which the artist is likely to have known well. His portrait of The Tailor c.1570 is wonderfully captivating as we see the young man interrupted in his work, his head cocked and his expression serious, but no less emotionally charged. Moroni’s attention to tailoring and clothes is evident throughout the exhibition, and is indicative of his meticulous and sensuous attitude to painting in general. Further, the candour with which he presented his sitters shocked critics in his day, and naturally contributes to the appeal his work has today.
2. Gerard Richter at the Marian Goodman gallery, Dec 2 – Dec 20
The 82 year old German artist holds the record for the most expensive sale, when his photo-painting, Domplatz sold for £24m in May of last year. In fact, he beat his own record with this sale, his Abstraktes Bild going for £21m the previous year. Preceding these stupefying sales, the Tate Modern put on a retrospective of his work in 2011, demonstrating the broad poetic depth of his entire oeuvre.
Suffice to say his work is quite a success these days.
If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, I highly recommend a visit to theeminent New York gallerist Marian Goodman’s first London space in the west end. There is both painting and sculpture to see, varying greatly in scale and date. From his paired glass monochromes to his oozingly visceral and brightly-coloured and paintings, Richter conjures vivid expression and beauty. His large ‘strip’ paintings attract great attention, their hyperbolic dimensions (up to 10 metres) overwhelming one’s visual field and threatening to engulf in a sea of fast moving colourful lines. Adding to their dizzying effect is the fact that these works are a manipulated photo of one of the artist’s own abstract paintings, which he has divided, zoomed in on and stretched to create something akin to an optical illusion.
3. Conflict, Time, Photography at the Tate Modern
This exhibition at the Tate modern focuses on photographs taken moments, days, weeks and even decades after an event of conflict. The works telescope through time, offering windows onto a world ravaged by the World wars, the Crimean war, the Gulf war… Suffering, loss and devastation prevail, but the photographs are also beautiful from an aesthetic point of view, as contentious a claim that may be. I often ask myself these kinds of questions in front of documentary photography: is it unethical to divorce the aesthetic composition from the scene portrayed? But also, how can the depiction of suffering be beautiful when it is inherently appalling?
The exhibition has been innovatively organised according to how much time has passed between the event and when the photograph was taken. For example, photographs taken in Vietnam 25 years after the fall of Saigon are seen alongside images pf Nagasaki 25 years after the atomic bomb. This allows the viewer to make unprecedented connections, and creates a dizzyingly dense vision of history where one is in several places at once, within a finite time capsule.
4. Winter Sleep at the ICA and the Institut Francais
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, this Turkish (subtitled) film is set in the fairytale landscape of Cappadocia, Anatolia. The former actor Aydin has an intense relationship with his wife Nihal with whom he runs a small hotel, along with his sister Necla who suffers from a recent divorce. The climate of Anatolia becomes a force to be reckoned with, and soon the hotel becomes a place for shelter. But what may be physical shelter can also be a battleground of emotions, in which close proximity of the three characters will only add fuel to the fire…
5. Spencer house
Right in the heart of the London’s gallery hub, is a beautiful eighteenth century house, built from 1755 to 175 for the Earl of Spencer. It is the most lavish surviving house from the era and has been restored with great care and attention,
Built for the Earl of Spencer from 1755 to 1756, this building is the most lavish surviving house of the eighteenth century. There are eight rooms open to the public, evidently restored with great care and precision. On display are paintings by the first director of the Royal Academy, Joshua Reynolds, as well as fine object d’arts and furniture of the epoch. There are tours at regular intervals throughout the day, lasting approximately one hour. To offset the coherent eighteenth century atmosphere, there is contemporary sculpture on display on the open terrace. Currently on display is a sculpture by the British Barbara Hepworth, Curved Form ( Bryher II) from 1961.
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