I’ve just re-visited Tate Modern. Last time was 12 months ago, when I was a student on the Foundation programme in Art and Design at DMU. My response to most of the collection was the same as before, except this time I didn’t feel inadequate that I couldn’t engage with most of the exhibits. I guess this means I’ve learned to have more confidence in my own reactions.
The unexpected treat was to see three Bonnards , The Window, The Bottle of Milk, and The Table. The colours glowed, but quietly. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of hot and cool colours. In the same room there was an equally thrilling early Mondrian – Sun Church in Zeeland, Zouteland Church Facade. The colours were built up in layers – pink, then pale blue, then red and finally orange. And then just close to the Mondrian was a lovely contrast – a Gwen John, all quiet colours , a unified palette, still, and undramatic but just as compelling. The other work I really enjoyed was by Robert Delaunay, Windows Opened Simultaneously. Again it was the colours that did it for me. The individual hues weren’t strong but the contrasts made the whole picture buzz.
The main purpose of the visit was the Gerhard Richter exhibition. His work did not excite me in the way the Mondrian and Bonnards had. But, it was interesting to see so much work by one artist, especially one who has explored such a wide rage of approaches. It seemed to me that in addition to his subject matter ( family, townscapes, landscapes and seascapes, history/politics) Richter’s work is concerned with different types of mark making. His techniques include painting from enlargements of photos with no visible brushstrokes, blurring images with a squeegee and water-colours.
The stuff I liked best were the Colour Charts, the Cloud Tryptich, and the photographic landscapes. My response to Richter has been to have a go at painting the blurred tomatoes. This is my effort and it taught me how difficult it is to realise a photographic image.
This is the photo I drew on: