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True to Life Exhibition at Modern Two, Edinburgh

A couple of weeks age we revisited the True to Life Exhibition at Modern Two, (Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art,) Edinburgh.

I’ve left this a bit late as the exhibition is only on for a few more days now. Its full title is True to Life, British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 1930s.

I found this to be much more enjoyable than the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition recently finished at the Scottish National Gallery (see also here.)

The first picture in True to Life, though, David Jagger’s “Conscientious Objector”, would not have looked out of place at that Beyond Caravaggio exhibition. It exploits light in much the same way as those did. This is apparently a self-portrait:-

Conscientious Objector by David Jagger

“By the Hills” by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst features on the True to Life Exhibition catalogue cover though for me it’s a bit too sharply delineated. The artist was said to have used lipstick to paint the lips here:-

By the Hills by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst

Another such too sharp picture was Meredith Frampton’s “A Game of Patience”:-

A Game of Patience by Meredith Frampton

As with the David Jagger painting above Edward Baird’s “Dan Cross” also looks as if it could leap off the canvas. I feel as if I know this person:-

Dan Cross by Edward Baird

Keith Henderson’s The Harbour Crowd is another fine example of the capture of light. As I recall this painting was one of the exhibits in the Palace of Arts at the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938. There was a black and white reproduction in the relevant souvenir booklet.

The Harbour Crowd by Keith Henderson

Some of the paintings in “True to Life” stretched the definition of realist somewhat.

Though it does contain figures (including the artist) “The Deluge” by Winifred Knights seemed to me to be at least influenced by Vorticism:-

The Deluge by Winifred Knights

Nora Russell by John Downton captures the impatient aspect of the early adolescent schoolgirl very well. I get the impression she didn’t really want to be painted:-

Nora Russell by John Downton

Beyond Caravaggio

This week we again visited the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery again as it was its last week.

Apart from the four Caravaggios I thought one of the most striking uses of light was in “Christ Before the High Priest” by Gerrit van Honthorst but the reproduction below doesn’t really do it justice.

Christ Before the High Priest

Two even more impressive paintings were by an artist dubbed The Candlelight Master (whom the information labels suggested may possibly have been Trophime Bigot.)

One was “A Boy With a Lantern” of which I can find no example to show here. The other is from the Royal Collection and is called “Christ in the Carpenter’s Shop.”

Christ in the Carpenter's Shop

This last one, “A Man Singing by Candlelight” by Adam de Coster, is absolutely stunning on the wall.

Adam de Coster

More Paintings

I’ve been going to Art Exhibitions again.

The Scottish National Gallery at the Mound, Edinburgh, at the moment has an exhibition entitled Beyond Caravaggio (until 24/9/17.)

The entry is £12 but the good lady and myself joined as “Friends of the Gallery” earlier in the year to take advantage of free entry to such exhibitions.

As its title implies most of the works shown are by followers of Caravaggio; though the three or four by the master himself are stunning. Some of the others are almost as good but there was one (which I shan’t name) which I thought was a bit cartoonish.

It was good value even if you’d had to pay £12. There are at least five rooms filled with paintings.

I couldn’t help remarking to the good lady, though, about one of the exhibits, “Why on Earth is there a painting of Russell Brand on the wall?”

Christ Displaying his Wounds by Giovanni Galli

The painting is in fact Christ Displaying his Wounds by Giovanni Antonio Galli – called Lo Spadorino.

This painting is owned by Perth and Kinross Council. On the UK Art site he’s listed as Giacomo Galli.

I noticed after we left the building that a full building height reproduction of this painting adorns the front of the gallery.

Stromness

Stromness (the name is derived from the Norse Straumsnes [headland protruding into the tidal stream]) is Orkney’s second biggest town but that doesn’t mean it’s big. It has just under 2,200 residents.

It has a brilliant Art Gallery called the Pier Arts Centre with several works by Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson and Stanley Cursiter among others. Well worth a visit – and it’s free.

Stromness Museum does have an entry charge but the ticket gives you entry for a week. It is also interesting with exhibits covering Stromness’s sailing hostory and from the Grand Scuttle of 1919 but also many examples of stuffed animals etc that may nowadays be frowned upon.

Here’s a view I took of North Stromness from the hills above:-

North Stromness

In this one most of the town is hidden under the brow of the hill but part of the harbour can be seen with Scapa Flow in the background beyond:-

Stromness from North-east

Both in the previous photo and the one below of Stromness from the south the Northlink Ferries ship ferry Hamnavoe can be seen docked at the terminal. (The picture on the link is no longer accurate. The ferry company has a newer livery now.) Quite often when we walked down into the town along by the harbour the Hamnavoe would be there. Hamnavoe is an old name for Stromness, meaning peaceful harbour.

Stromness from South

Looking south from Stromness, Scapa Flow in left distance:-

Looking South from Stromness

The High Street and those leading off it are very narrow. High Street:-

High Street, Stromness

This one is quite cheekily named Khyber Pass:-

Khyber Pass, Stromness

Painting With Light Again

At Kirkcaldy Galleries at the moment there is an exhibition of paintings by the group known as the Glasgow Boys. Subtitled “A Spirit of Rebellion” the exhibition is on until November.

The gallery is an excellent one with a fine permanent display including colourist works by Samuel Peploe and others and more than a few of William McTaggart‘s paintings.

This exhibition gave the gallery the opportunity to showcase more of its collection.

I was particularly struck, however, by a work by one of the “boys”, Thomas Corsan Morton, which was not in the exhibition but was in the gallery where the Peploes hang and which I do not recall seeing before in this more or less permanent display.

It is called “Sunny Woodlands” and unfortunately the reproduction below (taken from the ART UK site, formerly BBC Your Paintings) does not do it justice as it doesn’t convey the quality of the light emanating from the painting.

Sunny Woodlands by Thomas Corsan Morton

Arrábida Bridge, Porto

Porto’s beautifully elegant Arrábida Bridge (Ponte de Arrábida) carries motorway traffic over the River Douro on the western portion of the ring road around central Porto.

From the River Douro:-

Arrábida Bridge, Porto from River Douro

Photo from Wikipedia (taken from the Vila Nova de Gaia bank of the river Douro):-

Arrábida Bridge

Statue on top of bridge pillar:-

Arrábida Bridge, Porto, Statue

Support pillars and statue:-

Arrábida Bridge, Pillar and Statue

Close up on one of the bronze statues (from Wikipedia):-

Bronze Statue on Arrábida Bridge, Porto

Arrábida Bridge looking back towards Porto:-

Arrábida Bridge Looking Back to Porto

NAT TATE An American Artist 1928 – 1960 by William Boyd

21 Publishing Ltd, 1998, 71 p.

NAT TATE cover

Complete with cover flap comments from David Bowie and Gore Vidal attesting to its subject’s importance this is an account of forgotten US artist Nathwell ‘Nat’ Tate, whose final artistic act was to burn as many of his works as he had managed to lay hands on (“perhaps a dozen survive”) before committing suicide by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry. The usual biographical conditions apply, obscure origins, father unknown, mother died young, adoption by her rich employer (emphatically not Tate’s father but an avid admirer and buyer of his work,) an influential teacher at Art School, chance viewing of his work by the founder of a gallery, socialising with other artists, the development of his style – aslant to that of his contemporaries and details of which Boyd provides – descent into alcohol, meetings with Picasso and Braque, disillusionment. The text is interspersed with photographs of three of the surviving paintings and various important stages of Tate’s life, four of which depict Tate but in only one is the adult artist the sole subject. Boyd gives us a convincing, if short, portrait of an artist and his life.

Yet the story of Tate is of course entirely fictitious. Not fictional, such biographies imagining the circumstances and lives of real people abound, but fictitious. Tate never existed. He is a total invention by Boyd.

On the book’s publication in 1998 the cover picture, containing as it does a cropped version of that black and white photograph of the adult “Tate” obviously photoshopped over a coloured one of New York, might have provided a clue to those not in on the joke but anyone at all familiar with Boyd’s work coming to it post hoc would be immediately aware of its confected nature on its first mention of Logan Mountstuart, protagonist of the author’s 2002 novel Any Human Heart. Boyd would also employ photographs to an equally verisimilituding end within the text of his 2016 novel Sweet Caress.

A hint of Boyd’s purpose in writing this book (apart from sending up the hagiographic artistic biography of the forgotten genius) may be gleaned from the passage where there are speculations on possible reasons for “Tate”’s destruction of his work and his suicide. “Tate was one of those rare artists who did not need, and did not seek, the transformation of his painting into a valuable commodity to be bought and sold on the whim of a market and its marketeers. He had seen the future and it stank.”

Pedant’s corner:- “the layers of white turps-thinned paint that was repeatedly laid over them” (Boyd treats this as if paint is the subject of the verb laid; that subject is in fact layers, hence “were laid”,) swop (swap.)

Leixões and Matosinhos Beach

This is a panorama of Leixões from the SS Black Watch’s bow:-

Leixões Panorama

On the edge of the beach near the harbour entrance lies this monument “Tragédia do Mar” or “Tragedy of the Sea” a sculpture commemorating the Shipwreck of 1947, where 152 sailors lost their lives:-

Matosinhos Beach Monument

Matosinhos Monument

Much further along the promenade, too far away for us to walk to as we were pushed for time getting back to the ship, was this sculpture, “She Changes” by artist Janet Echelman.

Leixões Sculpture

I found this better photo by António M.L. Cabral on the internet:-

Ferrera Park, Avilés, and Seaside Sculpture

Thee is a lovely park in Avilés, called Ferrera Park. It was well used by people strolling or jogging and had that essential for a park – water; in this case a pond by which there were not only geese but a black swan.

Black Swan, Ferrera Park, Avilés

Off to the side was a nice parterre garden:-

Garden in Ferrera Fark

Complete with fountain:-

garden in park 7 fountain

You know you’re not in Fife anymore when you see a tree like this:-

Tree, Ferrera Park, Avilés

Just behind the parterre garden was this painted building:-

Painted Building by Ferrera Park, Avilés

The sculpture is called Avilés and seems to be by an artist called Benjamín Menéndez:-

As the SS Black Watch left we passed this striking sculpture. It’s by Benjamín Menéndez and is called “Avilés”:-

Sculpture, Avilés

Face-on view:-

"Avilés"

This interesting rock formation stick sout into the Ría Avilés estuary:-

Rock Formation, Ría Avilés Estuary, Spain

Further out where the estuary meets the Atlantic we could see loads of surfers riding the waves into Playa San Juan de Nieva but they were a bit too far off to photograph.

More Views From Aretxbaleta Bidea, Above Bilbao

From the ridge at Aretxbaleta Bidea looking in the opposite direction to Bilbao you can see right over to the city’s airport – off to the left of this photo of a distant bridge:-

Distant Bridge Near Bilbao

In the park area at the top of the ridge is this sculpture. For obvious reasons it’s called “The Fingerprint” whether officially or informally I don’t know:-

Fingerprint  Sculpture, Aretxbaleta Bidea

Looking towards south Bilbao:-

Towards South Bilbao

Looking towards north Bilbao:-

Towards North Bilbao

Even further north:-

apanorama 7

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