....Happy Easter. This morning we decided to go to some more galleries, after I curated a rather long list of things I would like to see. So, after Paul Graham yesterday, today was the turn of, first, Tate Modern. Then the National Portrait Galley.
'Miro' is the first retrospective of his work in the UK for nearly 50 years. I was excited to see his full oeuvre, up close for the first time.
The show was extensive, as you would expect and threw up some real treats.
Still Life With Old Shoe, 1937
Miro's use of colour, at times, was quite extraordinary - how else could the mundane subject of the above painting, become so appealing? And his use of almost graphic-like representations of objects, in particular animals, that are borne out of his surrealist ideals, are magnificent. Seeming still so contemporary.
Dog Barking At The Moon, 1926
Yet even without colour, Miro could produce striking imagery, at first glance humorous, but in fact often depicting the brutality of Fascist regimes and dictatorships of that time. Such success is shown emphatically in his Barcelona Series, where 50 lithographs sprawl along one wall.
Undoubtedly my favourite paintings of Miro's, (not that I knew it on arrival), are from his series, 'Constellations' undertaken in 1940. Here the subject matter is stretched to it's surreal extreme, but the colour and graphic symbols remain. As a group of images, they are incredible.
The second half of the show, (and indeed Miro's career), did not appeal to me as much. Imagery became sparse, with single lines or objects. Canvases were burned to bring in to question the orthodox nature of painting. But what that second half did do, is serve to highlight just how prolific and varied Miro's work was in his career. No stone had been left unturned, but it is his detail, colour and graphic representations that will stay with me above all. Great stuff.
Afterwards, Kelly and I had a hot crossed bun pit-stop, in the members room, (and balcony), which was a lovely, serene reprieve.
We picked up again, with the Gabriel Orozco show. A Mexican artist, whom I hadn't heard of, but left absolutely loving his work.
Orozco spans all mediums, but sculpture is his most prolific. Witty, clever, funny, intriguing are all words I would associate with his work. For example in, Horses Running Endlessly (1995), a chess board is created at four times it's intended size, with only Knights populating it, creating the possibility of an, 'infinite circular dance of pieces'.
La DS (1993)
Or, La DS (1993), where Citroen's iconic car has it's middle section removed and put back together again, creating a, 'static object, perfectly shaped for velocity'. In his photography too, Orozco charms - I had seen his project, Until You Find Another Yellow Schwalbe (1995), somewhere before and liked it. But never linked it back the artist.
In it, during a residency in Berlin, Orozco took his yellow 'Swallow' bike around the City, parking it next to and taking a photograph with any other same bike. Here, the photographs encircle you from each of the four walls in the main space, repeatedly making their presence felt. I love being 'introduced' to an artist, and this exhibition was certainly that - I enjoyed every minute and it was a great antidote to the grandeur and epic nature of the Miro show across the hall.
Not done with gallery-going just yet, Kel and I made our way to the National Portrait Gallery - where there were two shows of interest, Ida Kar and E.O Hoppe. Both were prolific and successful portrait photographers of their time, whilst Hoppe also used a point and shoot style of photo documentary, that has been copied ever since.
Bridget Riley, by Ida Kar (1963)
Tilly Losch, by E.O. Hoppe (1928)
Kar's portraiture, to me, seemed to be reputable for the often publicly known subject, above any real distinction in her image making. Hoppe, meanwhile, sees a Modernist feel run through his portraits and an elegant curation to his studio shots. Whilst I can appreciate the beauty of this work, it is not something I immediately love. However that is not the case with his more photo-journalistic work.
The Pearlies: Master Dennis Simmons, London (1922)
Borne out of a fascination of life in the decades in which the photos were taken, they hold an immediate interest, but also the nature in which Hoppe took so many of them - a Kodak Brownie, wrapped in a bag, with a ripped hole for the lens. This allowed him to capture a subject naturally, and unaware.
This is a much replicated style, particularly with the popularity of the Lomo camera in the last decade. Both were enjoyable shows and felt important in the history of photography as a genre.
With still only half the day gone, Kel and I popped our heads back out in to the sunlight and cycled across to West London for a BBQ with Chris & Karin and friends.
Robin, Tim & Kel prepping the plates
In a blisteringly warm afternoon sun, we ate and drank and the hosts even indulged us in a little Easter egg hunt in their garden.
Hannah had baked and brought along a fantastic plum tart, that we all demolished for dessert.
We left about 7pm, cycled back across to East London, dropped off the bikes and met friends at the Talbot pub, in Dalston, (after a quick arrangement made earlier). Here we carried on the late Sunday drinking.
We were even presented with left over Yorkshire puddings, which were gratefully received!
All in all an incredible and jam-packed day. What an Easter Sunday!!