Sunday, March 13, 2016

But I know what I like

Here's some art:

Top to bottom: Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir

We saw these paintings at an Impressionist Exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I found it very exciting to see them — yes, because of who painted them but I also genuinely loved the pictures. I don't judge Art by whether I would hang it on my walls but I would definitely be happy to live with these ones.

One of my favourite pictures is hanging on our wall. Robert Pope was a young Nova Scotian artist who sadly passed away of Hodgkin's Disease at the age of 36 in 1992. I had fallen in love with his art holding small photographic slides up to the light. I was editor of Atlantic Insight and I commissioned a story about Robert and his art. I was a big fan.

He is best known for a significant body of work exploring his experience of healthcare and healing as a cancer patient. These paintings, which he produced for his large solo show at Dalhousie University Art Gallery in 1991 were later exhibited nationally and internationally at over 65 venues.

One Christmas, Dan gave me a rental of a Robert Pope from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The rental was for six months but I couldn't give it up so it became a permanent part of our household.

Three years ago, there was a retrospective exhibition of Robert's work at the AGNS. I kept expecting to hear from the curator, asking for our picture to be part of the exhibition but the call never came. Maybe they don't know we have it.

I looked for it online and I can't find the painting but I found this:

This is called "Study for the Harbour" and it is very clearly the predecessor of our painting.

Lynn and I went to the AGNS last week for a little outing. The exhibition we saw is called The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design 1968-1978. We didn't have a lot of time and probably didn't give it the attention it deserved — or maybe we did. But if we had given it more time and taken it more seriously, maybe we'd have appreciated it more.

I did like the 36 photos of corner stores in Halifax. It was fun to see how many I could recognize and I was particularly interested to see how many of the stores opened on the corner of the building so they opened on to two streets. Here's an example — this is near where we lived years ago, downtown. (It's not part of the exhibit):

There were a couple of whimsical pieces — like this one:

And this one:

But a piece we noticed right at the beginning looked kind of like this:

Not exactly though. There were a couple more stripes but this is the closest I could find. Pretend there are a couple more stripes.

We tsk-tsked and moved on. A few steps further on, we saw the same thing again, this time very low on the wall, almost on the floor. We turned the corner, chatting and remarking on another piece when — you guessed it, there it was again. It didn't take us long to figure out that the repetition of this picture of yellow and white stripes was a statement of its own. Not that we had any idea what that statement was.

Of course it opened a conversation about Barnett Newman's Voice of Fire:

This painting — bought in a very controversial move by the National Gallery in 1990 for $1.7 million — would today sell for $50 million.

Go figure.

When it comes to Art, I try to keep an open mind and I always like something to think about.

1 comment:

  1. I've always like the Barnett Newman and hope it is on exhibit when I visit the Gallery on my visits to Ottawa. I'm not sure why I like it - maybe its size