Saturday, 9 May 2015

Leonora Carrington at Tate Liverpool



Liverpool on Friday was as grey as any city which had just witnessed the re-election of a party with an official 1980s policy for its 'managed decline' would be.  


I love Liverpool and was glad to be there with Daughter the Elder (here having an impromptu Marilyn Monroe moment).
We'd travelled over from Leeds specifically to see the exhibition in Tate Gallery of art by one of our favourite artists, Leonora Carrington, the English surrealist who lived and worked in Mexico for most of her long career. 


Carrington is possibly more famous for her colourful life than her art and this is a travesty as her work, which draws on the collective unconscious as well as Celtic and Mexican legend and folklore, is rich and endlessly fascinating.  

Giantess (The Guardian of the Egg), c1947


The Pomps of the Subsoil, 1947

The House Opposite, 1945

In her 2010 interview with her cousin, Joanna Moorhead, Carrington warns against intellectualising her work in an effort to understand it - it should only be approached, she believes, through one's feelings.  

I sat in front of this huge canvas for a long time. I reckon if I'd stayed there all night, I'd still keep seeing something new and intriguing, and in fact, this was the joy of seeing so many familiar paintings for real instead of in books - those tiny, often amusing, always provocative details.  (Here on my blog they are frustratingly small.)


The Magical World of the Mayas, 1964



Do you know my Aunt Eliza?, 1941

There were also masks and costume designs for Much Ado About Nothing and the Tempest, amongst others, and this amazing cradle painted for the daughter of José and Kati Horna. What a lucky baby to sleep in this!




La Cuna, c1949

After a time the concentration of colour and image became dizzying, and we were both reminded of when I'd taken a 12 year old Daughter the Elder to see Chambers of the Imagination, an exhibition of work by William Blake at the then newly renamed Tate Britain in 2000. Such was its impact that my girl had woken up screaming in the night and been physically sick.  Thankfully there was no repeat of this on the two hour plus return journey over the Pennines to Leeds through unremittingly torrential rain.  It felt like the whole of the north was crying for another five years of bullying misrule, and we felt lucky to have had the respite of a blissful few hours of sumptuous colour and intrigue and fun.    



The Artist Travelling Incognito, 1949




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