Melbourne 26 August 2016

DEGAS: A New Vision; National Gallery of Victoria

An overnight sojourn to Melbourne – I wanted to see the DeGas exhibition. Degas was one of the very first artists I understood and one of the very first artists I wrote about, albeit in a very flawed application for my B.Ed, fine art (and while I was successful, it should have been clear then that I was set to become a scholar and not a maker of art); I have history with Degas.

My love affair with the work of Degas is rather incongruous with my general aesthetic – I’m not really impressed by 19th century Realism and, while I appreciate their concern with the effect rather than the source of light,  I hate Impressionism, and I quite dislike pastels and I hate floury (and flowery) colours. Yet, Degas still continues to impress me with his mastery of the human figure in natural poses and an inherent calmness within his compositions, even when they depict lively scenes. In Melbourne,  works such as La Lige (Theatre Box, 1885), After the Bath (c 1900) and Danseuses eventail (Dancers, fan detail, 1879), reinforced my appreciation of these features.

But Degas revealed something new to me by reminding me about the energy he is able to synthesise into his work in two small monotypes from 1877-79. An immediacy of line has captured the vitality and strength of the static landscapes depicted in these two small, simple works. What is achieved in these works is really rather remarkable.

 

24 hours in Melbourne

Protests against the treatment of asylum seekers in off-shore detention centres in Fed Square with an over-abundance of police keeping the very peaceful peace:

Meandering through the laneways:

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The maze of galleries at the NGV:

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