Galleries - November 2015

what he was up to all the time. Turningto ‘Los Caprichos’, first published in 1799 (the probable date of the edition in Goldmark’s show), there was no mistaking his savage satirical intentions, the series provingso provocative, that it was withdrawn from sale almost immediately and was a financial disaster for him. You can see why – everyone and everythingcatches his ire – the Spanish Inquisition, superstition, hypocrisy, sexual depravity, the aristocracy – still echoing resonantly in society today, over 200 years later. NU Arthur Melville Arthur Melville is considered one of the finest British watercolour painters of the Victorian - and indeed any - era. If this is so, why then is Melville still relatively under appreciated by the larger view? Maybe it has something to do with the medium with which his name is so often associated. Turner notwithstanding, watercolour is still commonly thought of as a lesser mode of painting, commonly associated with Sunday painters and evening art classes. In contrast this exhibition ( Scottish National Gallery until 17 January) is a master class in the art of watercolour, where Melville achieves decorative colourist effects of which oil painters can only dream. Furthermore the dazzling splendour of his work is in perfect accord with the exotic subjects which he sought out all over the Levant, North Africa and Moorish Spain. Thus his paintings glow with all the allure that the East once had for the Western imagination. BH Louise McClary “I get obsessed with the creek and how the tide so much dictates the feeling and essence of the place. The tide comes in so quickly too, one minute happy drawing mud. . . hang on, mud disappeared. . . quickening day, clouds come and go, withdraws.” So Louise McClary recently described a working day in the creeks of the north Lizard, a few square miles of ground close to her home there. She has made it very much her ‘ground’ over the last 15 years, as she wrestles to set down this most mercurial of English landscapes. It is, as she puts it, where she “has her life’s work at hand”. This very mutability sets her work firmly apart from that of many artists in the area, less the sharp edged, clear coloured formalism of the post Ben Nicholson school, and much more to do with the luminous abstractions from Nature of American abstract expressionism – Joan Mitchell or Agnes Martin for example. Transcending the local, and delicately searching out the universals within the particular, we are taken on a quite intensely rich and poetic emotional journey. A painter of 8 GALLERIES NOVEMBER 2015 FIVES HOWS Goya For many people, myself included, Goya is among the first great ‘moderns’. His penetrating pictorial unmaskings of the psychoses of the times in which he lived are astonishingly prescient precursors of that dawning of self-consciousness that has marked art so indelibly since the beginning of 20th century. As two very different exhibitions of his work currently on show make clear, the ‘Goya Portraits’ at The National Gallery and the complete ‘Los Caprichos’ series of etchings at Goldmark Gallery, he simply seems to be incapable of making a mark on canvas or drawing into metal without that clear eyed commentary becoming apparent. The only difference perhaps lies in the demands of the medium and the subject matter. In his painted portraiture – and The National Gallery’s display with some 70 out of the 150 that survive today is unrivalled in its scope and magnificence – you are presented with work that can, at first sight at least, seem to take on the conventions of the time. He was born in 1746, his painting initially highly influenced by the dominant Rococo style of the period and his earliest portraits are still within those conventions, albeit subtle and penetrating; but by the time you get to the late 1780s it really is no holds barred, the only puzzle being how his sitters didn’t spot