The Easel

30th November 2021

Getting real with Richard Estes

What Estes took from working in advertising – the power of detail, the importance of visual rhythm – is evident in his acclaimed photorealist cityscapes. He paints from photographs, though without attempting a replica image. The difference lies partly in which details he omits. In addition, while showing the “pulsing visual pattern of things”, he includes elements of abstraction. “You always have to have that quality [but] pure abstraction is like having a lot of sound without any melody”.

Trick of the eye: the visual deception of Lucy McKenzie

Artists pursuing a diverse practice can suffer because critics don’t know where to focus. McKenzie seems a case in point. Despite getting a prestigious retrospective at a young age, reviews are scarce. The heart of her art is the use of visual deception, including trompe l’oeil, to invite other ways of seeing things. She applies this approach in architectural painting, fashion, film, design and more. Says the gallery, McKenzie is “among the most singular artistic voices of her generation.”

23rd November 2021

Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist review – Is the classic blockbuster exhibition in its death throes?

This show “loses its way” somewhat – but how far wrong can you go exhibiting Dürer? Travel to Italy allowed him to share his exactitude and dark Germanic imagination. Italian artists in turn exposed him to Venice’s sensuality, colour and focus on classical beauty. Who influenced whom the most is moot. Travel ensured that Dürer entered “the bloodstream of European art”. What he learned, says one critic, included a new, modern idea  – the artist as a genius.

Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution at the V&A exhibition review – still inspiring wonder

By the late 1890’s, Fabergé was the pre-eminent jeweller to the Romanov court. The “outrageously OTT” imperial eggs testify to his “gloriously creative vision” and a workshop that employed only “the brilliant”. Then came the horror of WW1 which made his objets de fantaisie “suddenly, utterly inappropriate”. Fabergé’s enterprise was finished off by the 1917 revolution, his legacy being those spectacular eggs – “ridiculous, yes, but exquisite, beautiful, magical”. Images are here.