National Portrait Gallery

Blog, Visits, Visual Communication

Here are just a few of my favourites from a visit the other day.

Larry Rivers’s Mr Art. A portrait of the famous art critic David Sylvester(“Mr Art”), an ‘outsider’ art critic and curator, who was particularly famous for promoting the works of Joan Miró,  Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon. Larry Rivers shows him to be this huge and overpowering being, with exaggerated shoulders and solid black suit, a slight nod to his real life power and importance in the art world. Its wonderfully messily painted with great line work scratched over for the hands and details. Also brilliant shades of purple in the shirt area that really contrast with the surrounding colours.

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Bryan Organ’s Lady Diana, 1981. One of the most aesthetically pleasing pieces in this room, Bryan Organ’s flat backgrounds really work on this one, with Diana sitting perfectly in the centre, framed by the wall paneling. With a great palate of soft yellows and blues and browns that really compliment and push her out into the room. Its a very precise painting, and in a way almost looks like something from a 70s science fiction film or novel, quite Star Wars A New Hope or the original Battlestar Galactica.

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And finally we have the pairing of these two opposing paintings: Conservative Party Conference, Brighton 1982, by Paul Brason, Which is again like the Lady Diana one, very flat and precise, clean, perfect, cold even, and also big and grand, a showing of power and empire, almost. Then to its right you have a small portrait of Arthur Scargill by William Bowyer in 1984. The complete opposite, a messy humble piece, filled with movement and passion, exaggerated by the red background, which also states its left wing position. Arthur Scargill was a British trade unionist and politician who was president of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1982 to 2002. And here he is shouting and pointing at the Conservative party. A brilliant placement of two paintings. 

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