Tuesday, 17 April 2012
I always think of the Courthauld Gallery as a bit of a hidden gem of London. Although it hosts a very colourful, varied permanent collection, it also has some very interesting temporary exhibitions which often explore a specific theme, movement or phase in an artists career. It presents a bite-sized chunk of artwork which is easy to digest and would often be overlooked within a large exhibition. I remember a past exhibition focusing solely on Cezanne’s paintings and sketches of card players. It taught me a great deal about his working methods, colour choice etc.
Currently, there is a Mondrian-Nicholson exhibition, which draws parallels between these two artists and reveals their creative relationship, which is largely untold. Piet Mondrian and Ben Nicholson were undeniably two leading figures of European Modernism who flourished during the 1930s. They both explored the vast potential of abstract art in achieving a new take on beauty and visual power. Nicholson’s white reliefs are especially stunning to me in the way that they radiate a calm, serene quality with their simplistic curves, lines and shadows. The relationship between the two was one that I was not aware of but on placing the works side by side, becomes unmistakably obvious. But rather than fight for the spotlight, they sit together, complementing each other and highlighting the different dimensions of beauty, which can be achieved through abstraction.