Sunday, 22 April 2012

Lucian Freud, National Portrait Gallery....

....Within months of his untimely death, the National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting a retrospective of the British painter's oeuvre.

I was tremendously excited - having been fascinated and in awe of Lucian Freud's painting when at school, I desperately tried to copy his style and brush technique in my own work.

The brush strokes, the colours, the layers of paint. Beautiful. So, to see them up close was nothing short of exhilirating. The beauty of such a show, is to be able to see all his work together, from beginning to end. And actually to realise that his mid-career paintings that I thought were unbeatable, are.

Freud's earlier work, from the 50s, where his textures and technique were still more subtle - these are what I realised I liked most. Like, 'Girl with a white dog', 1951-52.

As his work developed, Freud's brush work became looser, (lazier?), sometimes to great effect, but arguably sometimes a little too muddied. I also came to learn that Freud was, well, a bit of a dog. Multiple partners, (all of whom he painted obviously), but an ability to come across a slightly arrogant and nasty man. An artisan, I suppose.

Freud's final painting, of his whippet, Eli and his assistant, David Dawson. It was unfinished.

None of this deterred from my over all affection toward his work. His life time achievement as a British painter and the influence he has had on so many - including myself in my youth. It is a worthy show that must be seen, if only to uncover to others, as it did to me, the Freud paintings you know much less well.

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