Tuesday 10 January 2012

John Atkinson Grimshaw At The Guildhall Art Gallery

Happy New Year!

I must apologise for my absence but I'm sure you won't begrudge it giving the time of year?

Let me kick off 2011 a quick highlight on the Atkinson Grimshaw 'Painter Of Moonlight' exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London.

Fortunately last week I spotted a preview of the exhibition on Charley Parker's excellent blog 'Lines And Colors' which I urge you to visit. Seen as I had to be in London yesterday to pick up some artwork I took advantage of my situation and hot footed it to the Guildhall.

The Victorian oil painter Grimshaw was believed to be self taught and I agree. His colour control was masterful and he seemed to have developed a muted colour formula for his ever popular nocturnes but his drawing skills were perhaps a tad wobbly. This would explain his reliance on photographs for reference which didn't go down well with his contemporaries. However painting at night in the 21st century is a challenge so it must have been a ridiculous task in the 19th century (no head torch back then).

I don't think Grimshaw tried to hide his use of photographs which I'm sure other Victorian artists did. In fact in one painting at the exhibition it appears he has painted directly on top of a sepia photograph then added the odd figure from imagination but only halfheartedly as if to say 'this bit is mine and this bit... is a photograph'. 

The exhibition finishes on the 15th but will then be travelling to Harrogate for a long stint at the Mercer Art Gallery. It's well worth a visit with the added benefit of being close to Leeds so you can see how the streets in Grimshaw's paintings have changed.

As for the Guildhall gallery's permanent collection, it is a quality collection of Victorian painters. Alma Tadema, Rossetti, Tissot, Frederick Leighton and Millais all make stellar appearances and if that wasn't a good enough reason to visit there are the remains of a Roman Ampitheatre in the cellar.

Next Time...

I'll try to post some artwork but it could prove difficult because my current projects have to be kept under wraps.

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