Galleries - December 2011

Shell. A selection ofsmaller work ranging from Christmas cards to cotton bale labels leaves one wishing for a more extensive showing ofthis artist, whose instinct for the dialect of the poster was so unswervingly accurate and uplifting. Sarah Drury Seven In Canada, Tom Thomson and the Group ofSeven are household names but this show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery is the first time their work has been represented in the UK since the 1920s. Thomson’s work is particularly admired for the way his bright, almost brash, and vivid paintings established a new way ofdocu- menting the tumultuous Canadian wilderness, a task once thought near impossible because it didn’t sit well with traditional notions ofthe sublime. When Thomson mysteriously drowned in 1917, destroyed by the same Nature he had studied, the Group ofSeven were inspired to exhibit their work publicly. Initially considered crude, Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven’s landscapes now form a key element within Canadian art history. These small but bold and energetic impressions contain motion and a genuine feeling of investigation, their emphatic rend- ering and colourful outlines also echoing many oftheir previous jobs with commercial engraving firms. By the time the Group dis- banded in 1933, it had succeeded in teaching Canadians how to take Blythswood Gallery you try something else – like a biannual public show ofyour latest acqui- sitions. His most recent is an absolute treasure trove of(mostly) Scottish painting past and present – 180 works in all by everyone from the 1820s to today – John Philip via Sir William Gillies to Patricia Cain and Philip Reeves. It’s a collection full of eye-openers too – as, for example, our illustr- ation above, ofDavid Artz (who?), a much celebrated Belgian stud- ent ofthe Maris Brothers and the holder ofthe Légion d’Honneur, no less. A gem. Poster Boy The Estorick Collection has devoted two galleries to the art of Edward McKnight Kauffer, the American who, between the two world wars, convinced the man on the Bakerloo Line that there was an enjoyable face to Modernism. Here are some ofthose gloriously memorable posters commissi- oned by Frank Pick for London Underground which turned the tunnels ofthe Tube into his very own (as Wyndham Lewis rather enviously remarked) “subterran- ean picture galleries”. Other de- lights include the huge Soaring to Success (developed from a woodcut for the newly-launched Daily Herald in 1919) and the series ofsemi-abstract posters for Shell-Mex, Kauffer’s principal patron in the 1930s, where he plays with the idea ofExplorers, Musicians, Actors etc preferring pride in their landscape, achieving the highly individual painterly language this substantial and charming show so handsomely chronicles. Nicola McCartney Articulate Indiscipline In the 1960s abstract painting was regarded by some as a spent force, its demise inevitable. At Tate St Ives however, ‘The Indiscipline of Painting’ proves the opposite: far from the predicted decline the exhibition demonstrates the re- vitalisation of painting both in spite of and because of all the ‘isms’ of the last fifty years. It’s über eclectic with work from 49 disparate artists ranging from Warhol to Richter, then moves forward, sideways and ‘off the canvas’ to include in- stallations and objects. At once both cerebral and stomach churn- ingly visceral, there’s much to take in and a lot to digest. In conjunction with the Tate, Newlyn AG provides a single bite of the same ripe cherry by concentrating on the work of Swiss artist John M. Armleder. Creating a coherent installation combining stencilled wall painting and canvases of poured and clotted pigment it clearly makes the case that painting is as articulate as ever. Pip Palmer From left: B ruce Munro ‘Field of Light’ at the Holburne Museum. D avid Artz ‘Girl Resting’ at Blythswood Gallery. Edward McKnight Kauffer ‘Actors prefer Shell’, at the Estorick Collection courtesy of the Shell Collection. A ndy Warhol ‘Eggs’ 1998 at Tate St Ives. Tom Thomson at the Dulwich Picture Gallery P UBLICEYE 9. GALLERIES DECEMBER 11