I don't want to possess art. I just want to live in the National Gallery. Alternatively, a weekly visit at great great aunty NG is not too bad. Not visiting NG, together with the perspective not to go to ROH ever again, were amongst the scariest thoughts during the First Lockdown. Anyway these fears are now gone. At least for us - Iranian women still have to go with masks on their hairs. Virus or no virus sorry lice or no lice.
Back to the pleasures and joys of life, these days mainly contained in the National and other galleries.
Turner on Tour in conversation with Lucian Freud's New Perspectives are different in scale, yet complementing each other's exhibitions.
Different in scale, as Turner on Tour features two grand paintings, temporarily loaned by the Frick Collection, Fifth Avenue Garden, while they are doing some redecoration - unseen next to each other before. Whilst Frieud's New Perspectives exhibition features many a painting. For this and many other reasons I reckon they should be seen together.
Both Turner and Freud make an extensive use of yellow. It was curious for me to learn from the curator of the Turner on Tour exhibition, the excellent Christine Riding, that Turner's use of yellow monochrome was " innovative and modern, engaging with new colours coming on the market". Yellow, therefore, wouldn't have been a novelty at the time of Freud, yet he too uses it extensively depicting women and men's hairs, floor deckings, armchairs, flesh and other. Admittedly not in the "blinding" way of Turner and fortunately.
Apart from the unifying yellow the two painters are diametrically opposed in a very complimentary way.
Turner on Tour features two large scale port-scapes. One of Dieppe and one of Cologne. Of the two I linked the ``anti-picturesque" as Christine Riding described it, 'Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening' because of the rusty iron roads entangled at the front ground.
Seeing Freud after Turner helped me - eventually and after fifteen years of wondering - understand why exactly I don't like Turner. The Veiled Man, I now call him. The man with a big ambition and a vail on his head. For in the centre of most, if not each, of his massive paintings there abides a big misty vail. A huge ... nothingness. It might be that the colours have faded with time, which's why they don't "blind" me the way Turner wanted to "blind" his contemporaries like "Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus ", as Christine Riding explained. Hence, I am not blinded so much as to think that there is something at the place of nothing.
Turner's skies are so voidish to my eye that when I stood under ' Harbour of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile ' I thought "What a strange hole. And why would the restaurer put white into this hole instead of the same yellow as of the surrounding sky? How very strange!" Much later, when listening at Christine Riding explanation on how the painting depicted mostly women working near a gutter and how these women were a kind of reference to Cologne's patron Saint Ursula; and looking at the painting from far only then I realise that the strangely restored white hole in the middle was actually Turner's... sun....
Seeing the self-portraits and portraits of Lucian Freud next door made me think that Turner's vails hide a void. In this void there is Fear. This is the fear of one looking into other human beings in order to avoid looking unto oneself.
Which is why, I don't like the Veiled Man Turner, I perceive him as, dare I say, pompous coward. Which is how Freud's exhibition complements Turners, by being the exact opposite. In the centre of each of Freud's paintings there is a being : man, woman, dog, himself, described with a brave candid stare.
Last but not least, the third exhibition, the one outside NG's doors, towards Trafalgar Square, with the paintings on the pavement, adorned with flower wreath. The Iranian Women Saints Exhibition, already half washed by the rain, but still visible for so many people to spare a thought and to pay respect minute after minute.
While I am sitting there watching for people's reaction at the sight of the Three Iranian Saints icons, three men approach, they contemplate the icons in silence, then sit next to me. At this moment the sun starts to shine, I take off my raincoat, roll up my sleeves and my trousers - I am a sun-addict not wanting to waste a single sunray. The three men talk quietly Farsi, their glances pass through me not registering : my blonde hair, my naked arms and calves. The three men don’t give any symptoms of feeling provoked nor excited nor agitated at all.... Just normal men like so many others around. Now I wonder, what does this mean? Does it mean that they too much or not at all want to go to Heaven? May be they don't want to go to Heaven at all as Iranian men that want to go to Heaven, I am told, lose control at the sight of women's hair, thus faithfully paying respect to their Prophet, who, I am told, as well used to lose control at the sight of women's hair.* Shouldn't we then make some checks at airports to make sure that only men that are able to be in control at the sight of women's hairs may travel the world? Or in order to be non-discriminatory, like Islamis State of Iran is non-discriminatory to women and requires of all to wear the hair-mask (virus no virus, lice no lice); so the world should be non-discriminatory to all Iranian men and distribute horses' blinders to those of them travelling abroad (provoked or not-provoked, agitated or not)? Questions, questions...
To some or all of these questions - treat whatever sounds as a statement in this writing also as a question - each and everyone can find an answer this coming Saturday the 5th of November. And here is the schedule:
Get yourself into Turner on Tour free exhibition in the morning.
Have lunch. Get a ticket for Lucian Freud New Perspectives exhibition in the afternoon.
Have a coffee.
Attend the Iran Protest at 4pm and bring tools to draw more portraits of Iranian Women Saints. Hopefully on a different support than the pavement. These Saints have already been washed away from life, now seeing their portraits washed away from the pavement seems only too cruel.
This is the Triptych Schedule, in and outside the National Gallery. To be done this and few more Saturdays to come.
* A universal phenomenon : When men lose control they say women provoked them. When women lose control men tell women that they are mad.