11 July 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream in art

One of the newest attractions at Glyndebourne is a White Cube gallery, a diminutive version of the franchise that can also be found in Bermondsey and St James's.

This seems to be something of a change of direction because for quite a while art at Glyndebourne meant statues, and some big ones. There was a large horse's head pointing nose down on the lawn by the lake for several years and then there was an equally large statue of Artemis the Hunter beyond the ha-ha among the sheep. The woman diving into the lake and the Henry Moore are still there, I am pleased to say, but the seasonal sculptures have gone.

Last year Glyndebourne's White Cube had pictures of shoes that failed to inspire anything in me but this years exhibition of three paintings by Raqib Shaw are very much my thing.

They are clearly Glyndebourne's thing as well and one of the paintings has been chosen as the cover for this year's programme, an honour shared with Hockney.

The fantastical works are inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream and are set in Glyndebourne itself. The building on the horizon is the main house with the opera house next to it and the magical creatures are having a picnic in the garden.

I love the picture immensely because of its playful nature, vivid colours and great detail.

That combination reminded me of another picture from many years ago.

When I was young and rich (i.e. in the early 90s, before I had kids) I was seriously tempted to pay £14,000 for this version of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Sergei Chepik. It was in an exhibition of his work at the Roy Miles Gallery in Mayfair which I visited several times in my lunchbreaks when working at Logica in Great Marlborough Street.

I now regret not buying it but at least I had the good sense to keep the exhibition catalogue.

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