From London with Love
I recently had a few days visiting our vibrant, cosmopolitan capital city. I took the opportunity to tag along with my husband who had a business trip down there. How could I resist the pull of this amazing city full of great Art Galleries, museums, tourist attractions and some time alone to totally indulge in any combination thereof.
Day One: “I wandered lonely as a cloud in London!”
We were staying in Victoria, an area of London I hadn’t been to before so my first day was spent finding my way around this very busy part of London. I soon discovered that our Hotel was close to Cardinal Place Shopping Centre, quite small, but with some lovely shops and the surprise discovery of Westminster Cathedral towering over it. After dodging the traffic and the pedestrians I was drawn to it like a pin to a magnet. It is an amazing building full of black marble, huge pillars and the domes are encased in silver and gold mosaics. After the hustle and bustle outside the calm, cool, spiritual atmosphere inside was like taking a long cold drink when you need to quench your thirst. I wondered how many other people were actually in there to do the same as me; seeking refuge from the madness outside. My 20 or so minutes wandering around in there did the trick and feeling refreshed I emerged from the comfort of the building back into the big crazy flow of Victoria.
The stunning interior and exterior of Westminster Cathedral.
The Saatchi Gallery, Kings Road, London
Only one stop away on the underground from Victoria is Sloane Square which leads straight onto Kings Road and the wonderful Saatchi Gallery, home of Charles Saatchi’s collection of art on 4 floors since 1985 and impressively it is free admission too. The staff were friendly and you are able to take photographs of all the work on display. The exhibition was called ” Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America.” I bought a perfectly adequate guide for only £1 although you can buy an audio guide for more. I’ve discovered after visiting quite a few galleries over the years however, that the audio guides can distract you from taking in the visual experience so I am much happier looking and reading small concise excerpts about individual paintings but each to their own of course. There are 15 Gallery spaces to enjoy and I managed to fit them all in. I was impressed by every single artist’s work I saw but I have picked out my favourite’s to talk about:
Gallery 2: Frederico Herrero exhibited his “tropically coloured geometric compositions.” Most of them were well over 2 metres in height and width and with his use of vibrant citric colours and a cacophony of shapes and form they could not fail to have an immediate uplifting impact. Frederico is Costa Rican and apparently he started his journey into the art world by hanging his paintings on trees! His work can now be seen on walls, floors, buses and garages around the world. The Saatchi guide describes his work as “appearing to show an aerial view of downtown areas, with the old Spanish grid model disbanding into an endless labyrinth of seemingly never-ending suburbs (Amansalva, 2014)”
Frederico’s large scale mixed media paintings in the Saatchi Gallery.
Frederico with his work Born in 1978, San José, Costa Rica
Lives and works in San José, Costa Rica
Gallery 3: Diego Mendoza Imbachi
The Poetics of Reflection, 2014 – Graphite and binder on canvas 300cm x 600cm
Diego grew up in Venta Cajibio, Cauca, Columbia. His work is a “reflection” of the impact of industrialisation on his villages farming and gardening community. This image imparticular struck me as emulating very well his feelings and concerns for his environment as he watches the impact of mutation on his naturalistic world. There is strong contrast between the softness and delicacy of the leaves on the tree to the solid geometric rigidness of the industrial form on the left.
Gallery 4: Ephrem Solomon
Dignity of the Lady, 2013 and detail of sandals.Woodcut and mixed media 90cm x 95cm
Ephrem’s work reflects on Ethiopian society and shows images of ordinary people who have unfulfilled lives and appear to be waiting for a better future. He often uses monochromatic tones which give a sense of their world being “black and white” and the feelings of frustration and hopelessness this must lead to.
Gallery 10 – Aboudia
Aboudia – Untitled Head – 200cm x 125cm
Aboudia – Born 1983, Abidjan, Ivory Coast Lives and works in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Aboudia’s work focuses on the issues of growing up in a war-torn country. His paintings of heads are symbolic. He uses acrylic and crayon to create a visual representation of the children who were displaced in war and abducted by gangs. The heads are large, eyes wide, teeth clenched, long necks. They look aboriginal and allude to the child’s fear and the artists too for their predicament.
Day Three: Visit to Marlene Dumas exhibition at the Tate Modern and The Shard
Tate Modern and Marlene Dumas Exhibition
My main reason for visiting London this time was to see “The Image as Burden” exhibition by Marlene Dumas which shows work from her entire career. She has been one of my favourite artists since I discovered her work whilst at University. I am always drawn to portraiture but in an emotive way. She totally captures a persons character without much detail at all and this is even more fascinating when you learn that she never paints from life. In her work with oil she appears to use it sometimes like water colour which gives the image a dream like quality and amazingly some of her pieces even seem to have a transparency to them. I was totally mesmerized by her work at this exhibition. She once said “Art is not a mirror. Art is a translation of that which you do not know.” In my opinion if you want a realistic image of a person you use a camera. I showed my son a print I bought of a self portrait of her and he was also blown away with how she captured so much with so little detail. I think she paints eyes with so much feeling, almost like she is seeing right into the soul of the person she paints. I have two favourites of hers from the exhibition:
1) – Self portrait of Marlene Dumas – (Evil is Banal), 1984, oil on canvas, 49 3/16″ x 41 5/16.”
2) – Moshekwa, 2006, oil on canvas, 130 x 110 cm,
In this painting of Marlene Dumas’s friend Moshekwa she captures the essence of the person by painting the South African night sky in his forehead.
I could wax lyrical about Marlene Dumas’s exhibition from now to doomsday, as I was totally blown away by seeing her work in the flesh, as it were!
Marlene Dumas was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1953. She has lived in the Netherlands since 1976.
One of my attempts to capture myself in the style of Marlene Dumas using watercolour, oil and charcoal on paper. This print on canvas is 60cm x 40cm and available at www.folksy.com/shops/CobaltMoonDesign
http://bcove.me/7ykhd270 – Marlene talks about her work at the exhibition on “Great Men”
The Shard –
We concluded day 3 with a visit to the top of the Shard! I must admit I am not a great fan of heights but I was determined I had to have a look. I’m pleased I did but as you can see I looked slightly apprehensive as I had my photograph taken, champagne in hand right next to the window and the sheer drop to the busy streets below! I must add that it cost us £30 each just for the pleasure and the champagne was £10 each so not a cheap excursion but worth it. In comparison the Marlene Dumas exhibition at the Tate Modern was £16 each for a visual feast. Horses for courses! I thoroughly enjoyed my few days in London and I can highly recommend the Exhibitions I saw.
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Thanks again for reading my creative friends.
Love Jude x