Exhibiting a Story

On Sunday, I visited the Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond: The World Reimagined exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia which showcased works from the Museum of Modern Art. It tells wonderful stories, without words.

To look at Pablo Picasso’s Violin and Grapes while listening to violin music was amazing. Vision and hearing became tangled up with an illusory sense of touch so that I almost felt the textures of wood Picasso painted. Beautiful.

I used to wonder if some artists’ reputations were over-blown. Andy Warhol was one of those. I was wrong to doubt. Double Elvis is remarkable in its impact.

Similarly I now understand how revolutionary Cubism truly was. Multiple truths. Diego Rivera’s Young Man in a Gray Sweater draws you back again and again. I came away from the exhibition knowing that Cubism could provide the structure for a fascinating literary novel. What I need is a protagonist strong enough to stand the multiple, fractured analysis.

There were other compelling, eye-opening artworks in the exhibition. I can’t remember the title of a three panel piece that resonated with the moon shot photography opposite it. Don’t you hate it when your memory fails? Seeing the allusive hint of the impact of the moon landing in 1969 (I remember the date of the piece was 1973) strengthened my respect for the creativity and energy that went into the exhibition.

But my favourite painting was Georges Braque’s Road Near L’Estaque. Slabs of colour shading into one another. It felt very much like the Tour de France that I’ve been watching on TV for the landscape shots. Then again, who knows why something appeals to us. It just does.

Stories without words. Wonderful.

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