A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Arshile Gorky Retrospective, Tate Modern

After seeing the Michael Rakowitz exhibition I headed upstairs to catch the current Arshile Gorky retrospective. I thought Time Out magazine gave the show a slightly unfair lukewarm review.

The early rooms of the exhibition were fairly undemanding, concentrating mainly on his colourful, occasionally unchallenging oil paintings. Some fairly conventional family portraits followed. It was not until the abstract landscape paintings that appeared in room 8 that we saw the first signs of his distinctive, watery, fluid style which was to dominate his later works. Most are quite minimal in content and in places have an unpolished quality. A mild element of surrealism also can be detected in some of the paintings.

The later rooms were the highlight for me personally (as is quite often the case with these big shows). ‘Waterfall’, with its watery merging of shapes and colours stood out. This seemed to be the best example where his surrealism and abstraction were successfully assimilated. 

I especially enjoyed two of his paintings of 1944, ‘How My Mother’s Embroidered Apron Unfolds In My Life’ and ‘One Year The Milkweed’. Both possessed more in the way of enjoyably busy, vivid abstraction. However, I thought these (and most of his later works) do also seem to display a heightened sense of subtlety and finesse, which is especially evident in ‘Apple Orchard’ and the ‘Bethrothal’ series of the final room. I also liked the fine, black delineations that seem to enliven a lot of his paintings of this period.

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