Thursday, 3 March 2011

Manchester Art Gallery

Yesterday I went to Manchester Art Gallery, and it was genuinely a nice change to see old paintings. I feel as though I've been somewhat conditioned to view contemporary art this year, don't get me wrong, I'm greatly inspired by modern art, I'm still going on about Nam June Paiks lazer cone (I'm going to back see it with my mum at some point, i think its a pretty universal piece, that even she would enjoy), but I've been so far removed from 17th/18th/19th century work recently that it was good to take time to appreciate the beauty of painting.

I have always been a fan of Turner and marvel at his ability to paint light on water, how he can capture a scene so dramatically, and almost romantically in his use of colour and composition. One piece that was on show was 'Now for the Painter' (Rope) - Passengers Going on Board, which illustrates a boat being tossed about in the waves, highlighting the vulnerability of man in comparison to the power of nature. Delicate brush stokes showcase the intricate detail evident in much of Turners work.
A piece that I am always drawn to in the Manchester Gallery is 'The Desert' by Edward Landseer. According to one contemporary account, Landseer used a dead lion from London zoo as a model for this painting, but this is not evident from the dark rocky landscape in which the lion lies.The scale of  the painting acts to illustrate the size of the beast, and is instantly visually impressive. As you approach the painting the fur looks especially real, as if you could reach out and stroke this creature as it lies dying. This painting makes me feel a level of empathy, yet respect for this huge powerful animal. It could ultimately be a reminder of our own mortality, that even the strongest of us, will eventually die. Die alone.
And on that note!

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