Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Down and Out in Melbourne... at the NGV: Radiance - Neo-Impressionists

By chance, I happened to be in Melbourne ten days ago, just in time for the opening of one of the NGV's summer exhibitions: Radiance - The Neo-Impressionists.  Although I've never been a big fan of the paintings from this particular movement - they always seemed too studied, illustrative, lacking in vitality (although wonderfully vibrant in the depiction of light) - it was tremendous to be able to see a hundred works gathered together and to be able to examine the different approaches of the various artists (Signac, Seurat, Cross, Pissaro, Morren, Luce, etc) and to observe the way each individual developed their approach.

The port of Saint-Tropez (1893) Maximilien Luce

While I've always known this movement as Pointillism (from the use of the dot), I learnt that Signac regarded this as a derogatory term and preferred Divisionism to describe the scientific technique he applied.  I was also intrigued to learn about the connection between these artists and the anarchists of the period (Kropotkin's ilk): communal living, harmonious relationship with nature and the like.

I also caught a couple of small exhibitions while at the NGV: Confounding - Contemporary Photography and Ballet & Fashion.  Both worth a visit too.

During my trip I finished reading George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London.  I'd never read this before, but was glad I did.  I found it particularly interesting to read Orwell writing with a less polished, less confident voice than appears in his later work, and yet to see that confidence begin to develop in the second (London) half of the book, and in some ways I preferred the rawness of it.  I think it might be my favourite Orwell book.

While I'm scribbling, and it being 28th November, let me wish poet, artist, printer, visionary, William Blake, a happy birthday.  If he'd survived his death, he'd be 255 today!  Happy birthday, Bill.


Netty said...

You obviously had some great experiences in Melbourne, thank you for sharing them. Annette x

Paul Burman said...

You're very welcome, Netty (and apologies for the slow response). A merry Christmas to you and a happy new year while I'm about it :-)