Russia and the Arts, National Portrait Gallery 6.5.16

Really enjoyed this exhibition – to see a commentary of a moment in history.  A small but beautiful collection of creatives gathered to reflect the culture and social ideology in Russia between 1867 and 1914.

Nothing dull or disinteresting – it felt really fresh.  The bio of each person in the specific portrait somehow brought the work to life – again a reminder to me of the way the written word can be symbiotic with the visual expression.  I was also thrilled to see the intense gaze of Leo Tolstoy interrogating me – a window or a connection with someone I admire – it fired my imagination and took me away from anything ordinary, transported me if you like.  Suddenly I was face to face with someone I could never have hoped to meet and it opened up a new experience of linear time with the past being in the present and life emanating from the portrait.

It was intriguing – a window onto popular culture of the past, celebrating contemporary creatives.  Not really dissimilar to now – how could i reflect the same thing? – hollywood stars? artists? which creatives collectively represent our cultural identity? (*Idea for a theme of work, a group of portraits in a series?)

I am fascinated by the faces depicted in older works of art – I imagine the heads transported onto modern day clothing and see them alongside myself in  contemporary society.  (*Idea for theme – borrow faces from 19th and 20th century portraits and add place them in a modern setting, in modern clothing.  Explore how that changes the dynamic (if at all) and examine whether the human form can ever be ‘dated’).

*Must start considering how I would create a social dialogue or snapshot of now with my painting to represent and reflect the best of who we are.



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