Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Poetry of Drawing: Pre-Raphaelite Designs, Studies and Watercolours+John Salt Exhibition

I thought as a change from comics I'd write a bit about a couple of exhibitions I've been to lately. This may not be of interest to people who are only into cute animals and humour but if you are interested in fine art read on...

This week was the opening of a John Salt Exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

I've been a fan of John Salt's photo-realist American car paintings for a long long time. Me and my friend used to go to the Gas Hall Gallery and Birmingham Art Gallery to look at the painting above every Wednesday afternoon when we had free study lessons. I must have a million postcards of this image as I bought one nearly every week for about two years!! I'm not sure what it is I like about the painting so much, something about the atmosphere created by the colours I guess but I just remember being amazed by the fact this is a painting and that something so photographic can be captured in paint. The exact opposite of my comics really. So I was especially excited to go to the current Ikon exhibition which is showing the most comprehensive survey of paintings by John Salt from collections in the UK and abroad. Salt was actually the first artist to exhibit in the Ikon in it's original Bullring venue and he used to teach in Birmingham and the West Midlands before moving to America.

Another exhibition I went to a few weeks ago was The Poetry of Drawing: Pre-Raphaelite Designs, Studies and Watercolours at Birmingham Art Gallery.

Birmingham is known for it's extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite artwork but most of the collection is kept in storage and only shown every few years (such as the amazing Burne Jones tapestries) The thing I like most about the Pre-Raphaelite artwork is the way the paintings tell a story and in that way they relate to comics in their consideration of composition and what to show to create a character. This exhibition in particular was a collection of the studies and drawings which would have been created before the final painting began. The above image is a pen and brown wash over pencil on paper titles "View from San Miniato al Monte, Florence, 1845" by John Ruskin.

I especially liked this joke sketch by Dante Gabriel Rossetti "Of course!" caricature of William Holman Hunt and "Slosh" caricature of John Everett Millais from the early 1850s. They suggest a conversation between the two artists. "Slosh" was a word used by the Pre-Raphaelites to dismiss the work of Sir Joshua Reynolds- they referred to him as "Sloshua" and his paintings represented everything they despised about academic art. Early comic art perhaps?

There is an amazing online resource of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery collection of Pre-Raphaelite artwork here.

1 comment:

Poptique said...

I may be slightly sloshed myself on a few Sunday evening glasses of red, but that John Salt image is astounding.

Potentially have done permanent damage to vision staring at it for a good while...