Monday, February 09, 2009

Andrew Wyeth:Emotion and Creation

Currently on show at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art on the 10th floor in Sakae,Nagoya is an exhibition by Andrew Wyeth entitled Emotion and Creation.
I knew little about this American painter except for his well known painting "Christina's World" and the fact that he died January 16th aged 91.The exhibition provided me with the chance to learn a little more about the man and his works.

There are some 150 pieces on display that range from preliminary pen and paper studies and sketches to watercolours and tempera paintings which are the end product of these earlier studies and sketches.
Its interesting to see the detail in the early sketches such as the crab in Flint or the studies of hands,hair and lanterns in some of the other preparatory sketches and then see the progression and changes in the final pieces.You could read the notes he wrote in some of the sketches referring to such things as shading,dust in the water of buckets or colours to be used in the final works.

The exhibition was also refreshing for me being so different to the Impressionist exhibitions Ive seen recently.
Not only are the styles different..Impressionism versus Realist regionalism but so are the medium.While oil paints are part and parcel of the Impressionists apparently Wyeth used mainly pen,pencil,water colours and tempera.
Wyeth drew on his local environment with many scenes of rural life and used neighbours as subjects of his portraits.
The colours in Wyeths paintings are muted and understated.Many of the pictures in the exhibition are of snowy winter scenes.They convey a sense of desolate isolation and melancholy.The houses and trees stand out like rocks in a hostile environment.
There are 13 tempera paintings included in this collection.Egg tempera in contrast to oil paints has a smooth matte,dull,no gloss finish.I was surprised how much detail and how delicate some of the features in tempera pieces were.With the portraits a small speck of white in the eyeballs somehow gives it animation while small flecks of white in one scene do look like snow flurries suspended in midair.Very subtle compared to the excesses of Impressionist artists such as Signac who rendered paintings in luminous blues and yellows and greens.

Mention must be made also of the paintings frames.Some looked like they were weathered and old,grey,bleached wood taken from fence posts and so complimented and added to the paintings.I presume this was the intention and in the case of the German helmet filled with pine cones was very effective.

The exhibition has helpful notes in English under the Japanese ones which provide information on the painter and the works among other things.
I'd recommend visiting this exhibition,not only to gain an insight into how a painters creative process works but also to remind oneself Impressionism and oil paints arent the only way to go.
The exhibition ends March 8th,closed Mondays and admission is 1200yen for adults.

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