city – emerging from the chrysalis

April 18, 2010

A hot afternoon in Green Park – crowds of Londoners and visitors inhabiting the green spaces . .

. .  but the major city tree, the London Plane, isn’t jumping into action, foliage wise . . .

we call it the London Plane but it’s true botanical name is Platanus x hispanica – found growing in Spain as a hybrid of the Oriental plane and the American plane . . some of the British native trees are starting to break out in leaf, like beautiful Prunus padus – the perfume from this will be wonderful next week if this good weather continues.

At the Canada Memorial, kids were quietly playing in the shallow water – it was a hot afternoon after all . . .

this seems rather unnecessary . . . shallow water in city spaces will always encourage interaction.

The Queen has very bright bedding by her London house . .

. . but the Prince of Wales favours a more discreet colour theme outside his London residence – more Highgrove perhaps!

At the Royal Academy, the Van Gogh exhibition was still attracting crowds – one more day to go  . . .

. . . the rather fey stance of Joshua Reynolds always makes me smile  . . .

inside the crowds were three deep and those with headphones clamped to their ears made viewing and appreciating all the more difficult – why do these appendages have this effect on losing all sense of personal space! C. thought that said visitors ‘should only be allowed in on certain days’ – not sure that would go down well!

Trying hard to forget everything I know or have learnt about Van Gogh and therefore trying to look again  with fresh eyes, it occurred to me that he used figures purely as a drawing exercise, in his early work,  like his studies of peasants, single studies and in groups – ‘Peasant Woman Kneeling’ 1885 and ‘The Potato Eaters’ 1885 . .


. . . he was involved in portraiture and freely admitted that his interest was in composition and colour . . .

‘La Berceuse’ 1889

. . his last paintings and drawings seem to me to clearly show that the figure was purely a component of the composition – no real interest in the figure itself . . .

‘The Sower’ 1888

. . I’ll end with my favourite.  What does this say about painted landscapes with figures? Is the human figure necessary? Can we just see it as part of the composition? Can we divorce ourselves from identifying humans as the prime element in a work of art? Perhaps the animal hubbub in the exhibition has got to me!  The landscapes are more beautiful  without us – what do we learn from that?

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