Galleries - February 2015

FEBRUARY 2015 GALLERIES 45 foot bronze cast of its larger counterpart in Picadilly Circus. Today, with the exception of an incident in 2012 when an unruly tourist broke the figure’s bow, the placement of the sculpture among bright lights and bustling crowds precludes a personal encounter with the figure. However, represented in the smaller cast at FAS viewers have the chance to appreciate Gilbert’s work as a prime example of New Sculpture. Dealing in New Sculpture statuettes is a well-established practice at the FAS. In 1902 their First Exhibition of Statuettes by Sculptors of Today, British and French, capitalized on the popularity of the movement. Statuettes were important pieces for artists, who benefited from the comparatively regular income their sales provided. Collectors, meanwhile, enjoyed the affordability of the statuette and the ease with which these pieces could be displayed in the home. Today, the FAS’s exhibition is ideal not only for buyers, but for any viewer interested in a closer look at a turning point in British art The New Sculpture From 25 February to 18 March, the Fine Art Society will present a collection of bronze statuettes by the British practitioners of the New Sculpture movement in the late 19th century in ‘Frederic Leighton, Alfred Gilbert and the New Sculpture’. An 1877 work by Frederic Leighton, An Athlete Struggling with a Python , serves as the iconic starting point for the movement. During his career, Leighton would produce a total of only three sculptures, but other artists echoed Leighton’s twisting, muscular forms in their own works. Among those at the FAS, for example, are Alfred Gilbert’s Perseus Arming, where the hero twists a willowy leg to inspect his winged sandal, which compliments Hamo Thornycroft’s muscle-bound worker ( The Mower ), who stands in a delicate contraposto slightly unlikely for his profession. Dramatic forms, the use of new sculptural techniques and the popularity of the resulting works led to renewed interest in British sculpture. Among the most recognisable works in the show is Alfred Gilbert’s Eros (1893), an eight- CODA Frances Allitt F rederic, Lord Leighton of Stretton (1830-1896) ‘The Sluggard’ conceived 1892, bronze, height 20½”/52cm Fernando Botero Opera Gallery Having just refurbished their New Bond Street gallery space, Opera London are now mounting what amounts to a rare treat for London gallery- goers – an exhibition of the work of the great Columbian artist, Fernando Botero. Well-known in Europe – aged 82 he has lived and worked in Paris for many years now – but, for some reason, not in this country, his paintings and sculptures, focussing mainly on the human figure are characterised by their often hugely exaggerated proportions – “fat figures” as he once referred to them. He sees himself “as the most Columbian artist living” and it is tempting to see in his modest, culturally isolated upbringing in Medellin the influence of the exaggerated Baroque style he would have seen in the churches there as having something to do with the formation of this very particular vision. It was an upbringing which has served him in good state in his later career also, isolating him from the influence of international trends as he developed his wonderfully idiosyncratic style. It has not done his career any harm – his work goes for astonishing prices – while, at the same time, taking on some truly courageous subject matter, notably his ferocious Abu Ghraib paintings of 2006 or a series of drawings and paintings dealing with drug cartel violence in Columbia. In short this show represents an opportunity not to be missed. NU