29 January 2016

Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting - A Modern Baroque at Kings Place Gallery

Working in a building that houses two galleries is one of the reasons that I pull myself into Kings Place when I could just as easily work at home. They are both conveniently bite-sized and can be consumed as part of a lunch break or an afternoon tea break. They also provide emergency relief when work is going badly.

The main gallery, which now appears to be called Piano Nobile Kings Place, is mostly spread across the level below the entrance and cafe area. There is little on that floor other than the gallery and a large hole in the middle which is the atrium space for the concert hall level below. The gallery flows down to that level to occupy a corner of that space too.

The combination of the atrium and the high ceilings creates a space that can do justice to large works and the exhibitions generally take advantage of this.

The exhibitions also tend to be somewhat quirky and modern in a way that appeals to me greatly.

The latest exhibition is Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting – A Modern Baroque, which runs until 13 May.

They are all pictures of women, or perhaps it is just one woman, dressed and posed as if going to the opera.

They are interpretive rather than figurative and it is the presence of the woman that matters, not the details of her figure. The focus is kept on the woman by keeping the background dark and featureless.

The simple backgrounds, the plain dresses and the lack of any movement make the pictures as much about the colours as the woman. As is often the case, I appreciated the abstract nature of the art, i.e. the way the colours interact and the visual impact that makes, as much, if not more, that what those colours represent.

Similarly, I appreciated them more from a distance where their scale could be appreciated and full impact of the colours could be felt. Moving closer and the details started to intrude until eventually it was the brush strokes that I saw and the "big picture" was lost. Of course for some works of art the details and the brush work are worth exploring but I felt much happier exploring Thomas Newbolt's at a distance.

This exhibition was not completely to my taste but it was close enough to it to encourage me to go downstairs to see it a few more times before it closes.

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