Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Graham Sutherland

More thoughts from my travels this summer to Britain. This time I visited the Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal England to see an exhibition of Graham Sutherlands landscape work.

In Britain Sutherland is probably most well known for his religious pieces, particularly his depictions of Jesus on the cross and for a portrait of Winston Churchill. A painting that was so hated by Churchills wife that she destroyed it. This exhibition however focused on his love of the land and how he responded too it.

The Abbot Hall always presents an interesting and good exhibition and this was well displayed and very informative. I suppose in truth, I've never been wholly taken with Sutherlands works, (perhaps with the exception of his depictions of the cross). Too much of his work in my mind is too derivative of others. I can't help but look at his art and think of Picasso, many of his Palette choices are extremely close to the middle and late periods of Picasso's work. Additionally his structure of the figure and adaptation of its with form, is again unmistakeably reminiscent.

This exhibition does note his influences, mentioning both Picasso, and regularly Francis Bacon; and I can see that too.

So why criticize? Well to my mind, to be inspired and work from another artists work is fine, understandable and allowable; but to be too derivative and not to advance your work beyond the initial inspiration or your peers is a mistake. Sutherland I feel is terribly guilty of this and though I like many of his paintings; I find I am not thrilled or exulted by them. The addition of the closeness to other better painters leaves me wanton for something more, and well in truth, someone else!

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