This exhibition is at the National Gallery in London. I had a four hour gap between rehearsals yesterday and so I went to see it. I really enjoy going to gallery exhibitions but I feel saturated by so-called once in a lifetime blockbusters, trekking round with people getting in my way and generally just ending up getting angry – possibly not the right response for viewing great art.
But this exhibition knocked me for six. It’s extraordinary. I couldn’t pull myself away from the paintings which is very unusual for me. It’s focus is the relationship between these two artists who were related by marriage, and which is pretty much unique. They didn’t paint together, they had different styles, they had very different backgrounds and ways to success, but they painted responses to each other’s work. So this exhibition, superbly curated, hangs together paintings which have all sorts of links. That in itself is a reason to go, but the paintings themselves by both artists are breathtaking. I rarely respond to paintings on an emotional level, but these paintings are not only some of the most stunning technical feats, but carry a life in their composition, subject matter and faces which left me spellbound. For me this is one of the best exhibitions I have ever seen. On a Friday afternoon it was busy but not annoyingly so (I get annoyed in art galleries – I really need my own private views.) If for no other reason, if you can, just go to look at the faces of the people in the paintings. No exaggeration to call this a once in a lifetime exhibition.