THE MYSTERY OF APPEARANCE

HAUNCH OF VENISON GALLERY – 103 NEW BOND STREET, LONDON

“TEN OF BRITAIN’S MOST IMPORTANT POST-WAR PAINTERS”

This was my first visit to this gallery, at the top end of Bond Street so not far from Oxford Circus or Bond Street tube stations.

It has two floors and plenty of white space, but no seats to sit!  Why do galleries never put seats so you can either sit and look at the work, or make notes, which I like to do?

I was intrigued to read a description of the exhibition, The Mystery of Appearance, which ended today, 18 February, see here:

THE MYSTERY OF APPEARANCE

The painters are well-known to me, so I thought to see something familiar from previous gallery visits.

There were some things which are new to me, but the two big Hockneys I have seen before certainly.  Apparently only three of these ten artists are alive today.

The two painters who prefer to use very dense, textured oils have similar works on display, Leon Kossof and Frank Auerbach.   I don’t like them.  There is an Auerbach with a title including the name ‘Gerda Boehm’  of 1971-73 which is aesthetically unpleasant.  One painting by Kossoff titled Seated Woman No 2 of 1959 reminded me of a very large cow turd which had been played about with – brown and nasty.

The Hockney painting of a young man reclining on a bed, The Room Tarzana, showed his ability to paint tufted rugs and venetian-blind slatted doors, but the figure has a strangely floating arm, rather oddly positioned buttocks and very tiny feet.

A small female nude by Lucien Freud of 1956 seems to be focussed on a view of her bottom, with very large feet which reminded me of feet painted by Francis Bacon.

There is a large Bacon painting  (Pope 1) which is very familiar, in purples, violets and blacks.

The Euan Uglow paintings did not seem so exciting in actuality, they seem to present themselves better in reproductions.  Maybe it is the very very pink paint in the large female nude study?

There is a small sketchy head by Michael Andrews which appeals, maybe because it is so very sketchy.  As a contrast there is a very large painting of Norwich Castle Keep, which is  ‘Lord Mayor’s Reception, Norwich’.  This is apparently oil on canvas but seems to be oil on photograph, the black and white photo shows in large parts of the image.  I presume the photograph was transferred to the canvas and then he painted over it in parts.  Since I have just returned from looking at an exhibition in Norwich Castle Art Gallery, and walked through the keep, this was of interest and I felt that he had tackled a very difficult and boring subject with a certain amount of panache. Follow this link to see it: The Lord Mayor’s Reception

However, to sum up, all these painters seemed to working without any lightness or humour, a lot of works are dour and gloomy, the paint looked as it it needed dusting,  I made a note in my little book that the artists were, from these representational painting, all very serious and po-faced.

There were three working drawings, squared up, by Patrick Caulfield, and I wonder at the decision to hang these, since they did not seem to stand up to hanging alongside finished work by him, of the usual bottles.  Two are of very accurate-looking architectural drawings.

I was interested to see the black and white portrait photographs in the basement, in the ‘bookshop’, which somehow seemed refreshingly honest and direct, unlike some of the paintings upstairs. They are by Bruce Bernard in the 1980s, of Bacon, Freud, Andrews and Auerbach.

Portrait of Francis Bacon 1984 by

Bruce Bernard

It was a relief to come out into the afternoon Bond Street glitz which in a way seemed so much more interesting and vibrant than these rather dejected works.

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