Galleries - March 2016

(Agapanthus)’, reunited from three separate American museums, are breathtaking. These date from the same period as his stunning ‘Les Nymphéas’, on permanent display at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. For finally Monet became a visionary forging a new kind of art. “The subject is secondary” he said. “What I want to reproduce is that which is between the subject and me”. Standing in front of this vast shimmering waterscape, where lilies float in ether like constellations in space, one is bathed in a vibrant luminosity, which is more than colour, like a wave of life affirming intangible energy. Monet is the star of this show; he found his holy grail, he followed his individual path to its true source. What he achieved is beyond words, but one recognises greatness as one stands in front of the humble majesty of these masterworks. As Bernard Shaw said: “The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for Him there.” RC Reflecting on art competitions this month, it is worth noting a terrific looking show at Sheffield’s contemporary gallery Cupola, by a prizewinner of the 2014 John Moores Painting Prize, Mandy Payne. Sheffield based, she has also taken a tough Sheffield theme as the subject of her “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need”, said Cicero. For those deprived urban dwellers without even a few flowerpots to their name, a trip to the Royal Academy must therefore be a neccessity (but before 20 April). From the 1860s, many painters passionately cultivated, and then painted, their gardens. Apparently Monet “read more catalogues and horticultural price lists than articles on aesthetics”. And Monet’s paintings form the backbone of this beautiful show, along with work by fellow Impressionists (Pissaro, Caillebotte, Morisot, Manet), international garden enthusiasts (John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, Tissot, Max Liebermann) and the ‘Avant-Gardens’ of Kandinsky, Nolde, Matisse, Mache and Munch. The walls are ablaze with the warmth and vitality of their visions. Monet’s early ‘Lady in the Garden’ 1867, whose white dress enhances the deep colours of her surroundings, intriguingly reappears in several other painters’ works. The increasingly luminous and magical studies Monet made of his famous garden at Giverny feature the footbridge and water gardens said to be inspired by Hiroshige prints, some of which are also on display here. His three huge panels of ‘Water Lilies Competitive edge powerful, superbly crafted hyper- realist paintings, namely the city’s great 60s Brutalist estate, Park Hill. Focussing on the still un-refurbished parts of the development, her intensely observational paintings make us look again at the human resonances and unexpected beauties of these massive concrete structures, even mixing concrete and graffiti sprays into the paint she is using, and also as a ground. Meanwhile, like the John Moores Prize, the National Open Art Competition has also come to provide a helping hand to artists, with 2015 Young Artist Award winner, Holly Zandbergen, being given a solo show at Graham Hunter’ s progressive contemporary space on Baker Street. With her densely painted and richly coloured impasto surfaces, Zandbergen’s figurative work will attract collectors inspired by Tate Britain’ s current Auerbach show. NU from left: S cottie Wilson ‘Bird Tree’, Gimpel Fils Holly Zandbergen ‘The Crossing’, Graham Hunter Gallery Claude Monet ‘Lady in the Garden’, Royal Academy of Arts Terry Setch ‘Reduced to Rubble’, Flowers Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart ‘Composition No. 98’, Annely Juda Fine Art MARCH 2016 GALLERIES 13 Art in bloom C ontributors Nicholas Usherwood Rosemary Clunie