I discovered the inaugural exhibition series Portraits of the World (Dec 15, 2017 – Nov 12, 2018) online that will highlight an international portrait artist each year. This year the featured artist is Swiss painter FerdinandHodler (1853-1918) showcasing his painting of the Italian dancer Giulia Leonardi. Hodler’s contemporary palette and brushstrokes contribute to the effect of motion through dance that he captured so well.
The dancer’s pose is classical, reminiscent of elements in Sandro Botticelli’s (1445-1510) painting The Birth of Venus, juxtaposed by Hodler’s modern rendition which successfully marries the old and new in an exciting portrait worthy of praise.
Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus. 1484-86,Tempera on canvas, 172.5 x 278.9 cm. Reproduced from: Uffizi, Florence.
Andrews has created an artwork that adheres to the Gestalt principle of good continuation and depicts the speed, energy and exertion of the horses and jockeys as they race – in unison – along the track. The fluid motion of the shapes resemble waves racing to the shore. There is no time to waste and one gets the sense that nothing could stand in their way toward their end goal. Within the many abstract shapes and negative spaces we observe a sense of urgent pursuit. The bright reds and oranges add to this sense of urgency and excitement as horses and their jockeys lunge forward toward the winning line.
It is all about winning in horse racing as gamblers cheer their favourite to cross the line first. Andrews gives us a glimpse into this fevered sport and the effort involved to achieve this from a historical context.
‘Nature Morte’ boasts long lazy and continuous lines as they sweep across the painting in a relaxed and confident manner, employing the Gestalt principle of good continuation. Contrasted with shorted bursts of line emanating from the light bulb overhead. Here is a scene that takes place after the rush of the day is complete and the subject relaxes over a meal and wine. Forgotten is the harshness of the day with its perils and challenges, as the focus moves to this moment, this experience of winding down in the evening.
Picasso has once again captured wonderful shapes represented as abstract shapes, reflective shapes and shadow shapes; all of which adds depth and interest to his artwork. The earthy tones of terracotta and grey/blue contribute to the calm of the scene before us. His white and black lines are confident, implying a strong connection to the hearth and home as the subject basks in the warmth of comfort and a home cooked meal.
This is a scene that we can all relate to, the homecoming after a long day at work. It speaks of home comforts and security and the simple pleasures and satisfaction of good home-grown nourishment. From this point of view I think the artist is inviting us to see his work from a viewing context, because while food can be obtained anywhere there is nothing quite like the comforts of home.
Laughter, like art, is a universal language. It is something everyone understands, regardless of language or cultural barriers, and it is contagious. Whilst there is not much to laugh about during the refugee crisis currently dominating our headlines, there is hope that joyous laughter, rather than fear and hatred, will become our common currency during these troubling times. It is hoped that happiness agents rather than fear-mongers will be first in line to infect refugees with joy and relief when they arrive looking for safe passage to a better life for themselves and their loved ones.