Goya at the Courtauld until 25 May 2015

The Witches and Old Women Album

At the start of the exhibition is a self portrait of Goya. At first glance he looks like a man who, unafraid of dark corners, could handle a street fight and relish it. But then again, the left eye looks down from the shadows as if into less friendly lands, the right looks upwards and out at the world, both contain a sensitivity and concentrated inward reflection. (more…)

Richard Diebenkorn at the RA Sackler Galleries until 7 June 2015

Food for the soul at the RA Sackler Galleries.

Younger generation American Abstract Expressionist Richard Diebenkorn’s work celebrates the pursuit of painting, and it is fabulous.

Even in his figurative period when he explored the human form and still life the architecture of his final Ocean Park series of abstract paintings is already alive within compositions of graphic precision. The energy of these drawings, the placing of the body and its finely tuned angles of limbs and rubbings out, create a slow and continuous motion in shallow space around the work and its open spaces, familiar territory in his later paintings.

Richard Diebenkorn’s influences are clear, and as is true of the finest artists, he absorbs them and finds himself in the process, using their strengths and combining their individuality with his, making the whole into something separate and richly himself.’ Gorky’ (Urbana #6) and Motherwell reside early on in gallery 1, the influence of Matisse hovers particularly strongly in gallery 2, finally in gallery 3 Mondrian boogie woogies, Piero della Francesca’s Renaissance structure, palette and light flickers in shallow space and all fuse seamlessly into Diebenkorn’s final gloriously calm, measured and individual Ocean Park Series. Filled with quiet reflective light they are a painterly paradise.

Ocean Park #116 1979


A delicate balance of thin colour washes, revealing some of the painting’s history, create depth and movement in the blocks and bands which are the structure of the work. Overpainted diagonals and curves make linear pathways through the washes along with finer, darker lines which sharpen up the structure and in one curving line on the right work against it, creating a perpetual meditative motion around and through the image as it picks up the faint diagonals and curves on its way to a vertical cutting through pink on the left of the canvas. Top left an acid green over yellow up against a thin band of red beats at a faster pace along with the emerald green above it to the right. The colour lives and breathes and if it does not compel you to stand and live inside its mystery for a while then go back and give it the time it deserves and you will not regret it.

This exquisite painting lives, amongst others, quietly and richly in the Sackler Galleries until 7 June.

Exhibition Details

Life painting and drawing May courses

There are currently places available on my Saturday 16 May class and May 18-22 one-week course in life painting and drawing. You can concentrate on your drawing or develop your painting with individual tuition in a small group. All abilities are welcome.

Class times are 10am to 5pm.


You can see full details in the school section of my website https://www.rachelclark.com/life-painting-and-drawing-school/?or please phone me if you would like to discuss details – 07528 674 389.


Egon Schiele : The Radical Nude, at the Courtauld until 18 January 2015

This is a small exhibition, just 38 works on paper. No surprises, it’s Schiele, the work is explicit and unsparing. Female bodies are often composed to show the vulva highlighted and centre stage. These subjects don’t take prisoners, their look is frequently challenging and distant and where it’s vulnerable the discomfort is considerable.

Perhaps in the early 1900s in Vienna the experience of standing in front of the image of a young child, awkwardly exposing herself to the onlooker, her vulva made visually prominent by a shimmer of texture and colour was more acceptable. It is fascinating to be so aware of our responsibilities, our social and political complications in front of this one uncomfortably haunting small work. In 2015 it has huge and troubling associations whatever the original intention and however brilliantly her pubescent discomfort is described.

life drawing

‘Standing Nude with Stockings’ – Egon Schiele

‘Standing Nude with Stockings’ is one of the less explicit works in the show. Every part her body is alive and ready to spring off the paper to stalk the gallery unimpressed by its occupants, and this is true of many of Schiele’s drawings and their subjects. There is something more than animal about these people. And there is no respite in his disquieted self-portraits. The subjects and their compositions are charged with a hungry dispassionate energy. And whilst there is a balance and harmony in the construction of the images, the experience of them is more demanding.

Exhibition details:
The Courtauld Gallery

Kenneth Clark : Looking for Civilisation, at Tate Britain until 10 August 2014

Responses to a few images in this rich (and varied) exhibition.

I’m not a major fan of the Euston School but loved Passmore’s ‘The Red Tablecloth’. Sumptuous deep cadmium red cloth and brown-red space beyond, Vuillard-like – mystery and intimacy conjured in a spare and simple composition – nothing happening but much anticipated.

Sutherland - The City; A Fallen Lift ShaftNature is always evident (more…)

Sean Scully at Timothy Taylor Gallery until 26 July 2014

Sean Scully’s painting Kind of Red is a five panel piece. Loosely painted blocks of cool blue-blacks, brown-blacks and earthy reds floating on a field of nebulous silver.

The pattern and rhythms loosely define the journey, allow the eye to hover and wait in a section, live for a moment in a rich and slippery deep red before the flicker of repeated pattern or colour in another section moves it on, and on again, in an endless meditation. It is a compelling piece.

Veronese at the National Gallery until 15 June 2014

Taking one example of flawless composition – “Iseppo da Porto and his son Leonida” (1552) is a timeless portrayal of the relationship between father and son at the point at which perfection reigns.

Colour, which beats a powerful rhythm in Veronese’s paintings, is pared down in a portrait of umbers and blacks. (more…)

Richard Hamilton at Tate Modern until 26 May 2014

An interesting exhibition which mostly engages the mind rather than the senses. There’s humour (some scatological), politics made more powerful by the absence of emotion – a sharp commentary on the late 20th/early 21st Century. The map of the growing/diminishing territory of Israel/Palestine a direct and effective statement. And then, his painting ‘Lobby’ is a place in which the plant life looks uncomfortably out of place within this man-made vacuum. It’s a soulless hotel reception endlessly reflecting on itself in pristine mirrored pillars, the threat of a ghastly limbo world with a staircase on the right, like Jacob’s Ladder, rising to the blue-sky ceiling without the promise of something beyond. A world apart from Matisse and his cut-outs on the next floor – an entirely different journey.

Turner Contemporary

There is still time to see ‘Making Painting: Helen Frankenthaler and JMW Turner’ at Margate’s Turner Contemporary. An unexpected and rewarding combination of works from 20th century Abstract Expressionism and 19th century Romanticism. Worth seeing alone for Frankenthaler’s painting ‘For E.M’ – her re-working of Manet’s painting ‘Fish (Still life)’ 1864, but for other gems too such as ‘Barometer’, ‘Eastern Light’ and ‘Lush Spring’ which are enriched when seen against Turner’s painterly seascapes and timeless but innovative watercolours. Both broke with conventions and were at their best when they did. Turner at his richest, painting the sublime experience of the world, Frankenthaler’s is a quieter, inner journey of the same.

Closes 11 May 2014.