Galleries - August 2013

7. GALLERIES AUGUST 13 arriving by ship at London docks, also dynamically evoking the modern deracinated urban experi- ence –impressively introduces A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908-1922 ( Dulwich Picture Gallery ). The exhibition focuses on the superb early achievments of –and tre- mendous challenges faced by – an innovative, supremely gifted group of young artists and fellow Slade students: Paul Nash, C.R.W. Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington and David Bomberg. The show contin- ues with delicately assured early self-portraits and portraits of the artists (except Nash), the probing contours and psychology of which Professor Tonks would have been proud. Spencer’s Apple Gatherers (1912-13) and Gertler’s The Fruit Sorters (1914), inspired by Italian Primitives and Gauguin, speak of a hermetic pre-war paradise, be- fore the creative maelstroms of continental avant-gardism and then horrors of the Great War splintered, then detonated the settled world typified by the Slade. Wartime masterpieces include Nevinson’s bleak, angularised study of the dead and wounded, La Patrie (1916); Spencer’s 1920 Christ Carrying the Cross , with its Cookham householders appear- ing liked net curtain winged ang- els, is a visionary reaffirmation of painting and life in the utterly changed post-War world. Philip Vann extraordinary period by pulling to- gether 120 paintings and photo- graphs by both Mexican and over- seas artists. Most of us have heard of Diego Rivera’s civic mural des- igns and Frida Kahlo’s national- istic self-portraits, both of which feature, but most intriguing are the typically stylized and garish paintings by lesser-known Mexi- cans that offer an insight into the wider fashions, art schools, pol- itics and escapist narratives of the time. For example, Juan Soriano’s The Dead Girl (1928) which re- presents Mexico’s fascination with the morbid, depicts a child en- capsulated by her coffin and a ring of foliage. Among the works by the overseas artists, some were by the simply curious, or politically sym- pathetic visitors like Albers and Guston, others by political refu- gees. Edward Burra’s bright and bustling watercolours also stand out, his narratives at home among the native painters. Effectively though, no single artist or genre takes precedence; this show reminds us of Mexico’s interna- tional and creative contributions, a country where diverse creativity still blossoms. Nicola McCartney A Crisis of Brilliance David Bomberg’s epic halluc- inatory painting In the Hold (c.1913) –based on the searing Jewish immigrant experience of A Proper Painter Having organized the RA’s suc- cessful Lowry show in 1976, I have to admit to a sense of déjà vu about the critical reaction to Tate Britain ’s major new exhibition. The drift of this, now as then, has been to claim that he was a ‘pop- ular’ artist but always seriously neglected by Britain’s art estab- lishment. Popular maybe, though not really until well into his 60s, by which time he had been showing in top London gallery Lefevre for a decade and had had an Arts Cou- ncil organized show at the Tate in 1966. You really didn’t get much more establishment than that. So, putting this rewriting of history behind us, how does Low- ry look nearly forty years on? With the emphasis on him as a painter of the industrial urban scene, and curated on a massive scale, there is a danger of visual repetitive- ness setting in but, that said, Low- ry’s ‘voice’ still emerges as auth- entic and true, as valid for our age as for his own. For anyone who dismisses him as a kind of jump- ed up ‘Sunday painter’ who can’t really paint – look at Industrial Landscape, Wigan 1925. NU Mexico’s Revolutionistas The years between the Revolution of 1910 and 1940 signalled an era of internationally acclaimed, politi- cally-charged, artistic activity un- paralleled in the country’s history. ‘Mexico: A Revolution in Art’ at the Royal Academy , celebrates this TRIPLEVISION from left: M ark Gertler ‘The Fruit Sorters’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery. Edward Burra ‘El Paseo’ c.1938, at The Royal Academy. L .S. Lowry ‘Industrial Landscape, Wigan 1925’ © The Estate of L.S. Lowry, at Tate Britain