Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Revolutionary Light: Blake, Kapoor, Turner

‘Revolutionary Light’ is an interesting show currently on view at Manchester-based Whitworth Art Gallery that brings together some of the finest examples of works on paper from the Whitworth’s collection.

The fiery intensity of William Blake’s religious imagery is epitomized in his 1809 series of watercolours, based on Milton’s poem Hymn on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity. In these intricate works, light blasts, beams and glimmers to convey the adoration, majesty and horror within these narratives. Also on display is Blake’s masterpiece in watercolor, ‘The Ancient of Days’ (c.1827) with the burning disc of the sun at its centre.

Anish Kapoor’s suite of etchings, ‘Blackness from her Womb’ (2001) glows with a luminosity achieved by contrasting intense color with deep inky darkness. Inspired by William Blake, these prints address the symbolic, mystical significance of light and dark. Elaborating on his work, a note on the Tate Gallery website  mentions: “He was one of a generation of British-based sculptors who became established in the international arena during the 1980s and is prominent among his contemporaries for the quality of hermetic lyricism that permeates his work.

“He has acknowledged a bearing on his art of both Western and Eastern culture. The powerful spiritual and mythological resonances of his sculptures arise in part from frequent return visits to India. Natural materials such as sandstone, marble and slate are impregnated with raw powdered pigment of vivid hues, thus enhancing a feeling of inner radiance. In the early 1990s he introduced a more enigmatic slant by boring holes in the flanks of standing stones.”

Also on display is a stunning selection of works by JMW Turner. Reported to have uttered the words ‘the sun is God’ shortly before his death, Turner became the master of painting sunlight, harnessing its power and demonstrating its dramatic effect upon the landscape.

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