Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gilray at the AGO

Going through some old magazines of mine, ( I do this all the time, however the studio is still chock a block with stuff, lets just call paper ephemera) I came across this old issue of the Tate Gallery magazine. In days of old, it would be enough for me to hold onto it as it was 1994, prior to the Tate Modern, akin to pre corporate buy out if you will, but space is limited at the studio these days so I had to go through it to see if it was really worth keeping.

This tate magazine of summer 1994, has a grouping of work under the heading of the body imagery examining the way the body was depicted at this time and what that says about the society.

Check out this beauty:

In this essay was some of the Tate's collection of Gilray prints and others of the era. Yes, the AGO is having a show right now of Goya and Gilray, but I was unsatisfied with both masters at the gallery. Goya, how the hell can you be unsatisfied by Goya?

Well, the gallery has chosen to put up a copy of the Los Caprichos that is hand tinted by a collector...really? As a kid I collected comics and hockey cards, colouring them in made them worth nothing, I fail to see how these prints are exempt from a simple rule every 8 year old knows. What the hell is this? An art gallery or Ted turner in the 80s?

Gilray's work on display is good, a strong showing of his immense talents, but he was a man who served the best aspects of his satire when it was as close to the bone as possible.

Just look at this:

Now that is what I call, not pulling a punch! In the AGO show you see some imagery where he criticizes the revolution in France, on their new found freedoms and their new found lack of basic necessities...But this image, clearly spells out it's views on how the British and much of Europe saw the French Revolution and the following reign of terror.

The way he portrays his countrymen, he is not too enamoured with them either, clearly. We also get to understand how the people at that time feared the uncertainty a revolution brings about, and how through the news of the day, genteel Paris seemed to be at end.

So don't get me wrong, it is still worth it to stop in at the AGO, you will find the coloured Goya prints jarring if you have studied them but there is draftsmanship in spades, and a real strong valid criticism of the world the artist lived in. To me, the raw imagery of Gilray really communicates this on a personal level.

I'm not some major proponent of magazines either, but here I go just loving another magazine, and storing it above the fridge in a cupboard at the studio instead of recycling the damn thing, sigh.

Yes, this magazine really was 1994, just look at the advert on the back