Sunday, 18 July 2010

Back in time.

The very moment you step onto the winding, cobbly streets of Oxford, you are forgiven for believing you have time warped back to the 17th century - the immaculately maintained, medieval buildings of the university play a huge role in the setting of this fairy tale land. However, during my recent trip, I had but one aim in mind: to explore each and every art scene within this historical city. Of course there was going to be an expansive collection of paintings, coming straight out of the Pre-Raphaelite era, along with the buildings to which they belong. Nevertheless, after a tour around the Ashmolean Museum, I came across the Modern Art gallery - a contemporary haven, hidden deep within Pembroke Street. It exuded a true, bohemian ambiance, whilst looking misfittingly avant-garde amongst the archaic architecture. The photos below show the works of Howard Hodkin (Modern Art), whose inluence for this particular exhibition was 'Time and Place'. To be frank, I've never been a keen follower of the modern artists - I mean, surely a 5 year old could have easily produced this contrasting mess of brush strokes? But this exhibition somehow played towards changing my initial views - it was most likely to have been the painting 'Sky' - a gem of blue tranquility enclosed within an ornate, gold frame. The spiraling, circular theme is consistant within the work, which I found suggestive of the neverending freedom of the sky, or perhaps, the circle of life, which is also often depicted through the imagery of the sky (heaven). Whatever the case may be, it definitely got me thinking about modernism on a much deeper level, overlooking the initial simplicity of the artwork.

Ashmolean museum staircase
'Miss Ruth Stewart Hodgson' by Frederic Lord Leighton stood out to me immediately - the contrast with the dark background makes the painting bolder and infuses it with a sinister underlay.
Howard Hodgkin:

'In Egypt'

'The Sky's The Limit'

Bodleian library