The Artist UK - 2020 January

The Artist UK - 2020 January
2020 January
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    2020 January
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The Artist magazine is the UK's leading practical art magazine and the essential source of inspiration, advice and information for all artists, since its launch in 1931. With the demise of the teaching of traditional drawing and painting skills in our art schools, The Artist stands out for its commitment to teach traditional artistic skills and techniques in all media, covering all traditional subject matter. Written by artists, for artists, every issue is packed with practical articles to inspire artists of all levels, and includes interviews with top professional artists who provide insights into their approach and working methods.With regular up-to-date information on the latest art materials available, exhibitions to see and enter, events, opportunities, books, courses, and the business side of being a full-time artist, The Artist is an essential and inspirational resource for all artists, whether a passionate amateur or hard-working professional.
  If you can set aside the more controversial and unsavoury aspects of Gauguin’s personal life choices, there’s much to like in this latest exhibition of his portraits at the National Gallery. The experience is a joy from beginning to end with the entire exhibition full of pictorial delights. I enjoyed the chronological display which walks us through Gauguin’s career, revealing the changes in his approach to his subject matter and his obsession with breaking tradition and developing a visual language that distinguished him from the Impressionists. His original use of heightened colour, which would later inspire Matisse and the Fauves, is clearly evident throughout – ochres, limes, tangerines and yellows shine brightly in many of the paintings, including a particular favourite of mine, Vahine no te vi (Woman with a Mango) of 1892. In his Portrait of Suzanne Bambridge of 1891, another favourite, he used an unconventional palette of turquoise, black and pink – visually stunning although the sitter apparently disliked it so much she hid it away.
  Portraiture as the theme of the exhibition invites us to consider what this genre meant for Gauguin, and indeed how he expanded its possibilities for today’s artists. Although many artists judge their success as portraitists in the western tradition of the likeness, social standing or personality achieved, in this exhibition we see an artist determined to go beyond a physical resemblance and make portraiture about so much more. He used portraiture to explore his relationships with his family and people he knew, often including a spiritual or symbolic narrative, at the same time experimenting with media, colour, texture, composition and drawing on inl uences from East and West.
  This is clear from the exciting i rst room focusing solely on his self-portraits. From the relatively straightforward likeness of his earliest Self Portrait of 1885 in which we already see his enjoyment in the heightened use of colour, through to his self-portrait as Christ in the Garden of Olives, 1889, in which he depicts himself as Christ on the eve of his betrayal to imply his own feelings of isolation, we see him drawing on religious or familiar iconography to express his personal situation and feelings. There’s a story and personal agenda behind every painting, which the handy pocket-sized exhibition guide helps to illuminate, providing a brief historical context for the artworks and enriching the visitor’s visual experience. To extract maximum enjoyment from a visit, we need to pay attention both to the work and the background information.
  In the i nal room of the exhibition we see Gauguin at the end of his life (he died aged 54 in 1903) still pushing the boundaries of modern portraiture and how it could be expressed. The whole exhibition is a revelation and shows us how Gauguin helped to redei ne what a portrait could be.

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