Alan Pow­ers

Wel­comes a new ex­hi­bi­tion that chal­lenges the per­cep­tion that Mod­ern art was solely about avant-garde move­ments and styles

Country Life Every Week - - Exhibition -

Bri­tish paint­ing and sculp­ture from the first half of the 20th cen­tury is a shape-shift­ing af­fair. in the course of shin­ing new lights on it, un­known artists are re­vealed and the known may ap­pear in dif­fer­ent roles. At Pal­lant house, Chich­ester, West sus­sex, si­mon Martin and his col­leagues have been low­er­ing their nets re­peat­edly into this pool over the past 10 years and the lat­est catch, ‘the Mythic Method’, is a broad trawl of fish both fa­mil­iar and un­fa­mil­iar.

the idea is a recog­nised fea­ture of the pe­riod’s his­tory— that, af­ter the First World War, many artists re­acted against Modernism and turned to Clas­si­cal sub­jects and tech­niques, Pi­casso be­ing the lead­ing ex­am­ple. if Modernism is the main­stream, this par­al­lel stream is easy enough to po­si­tion on the chart.

the re­al­ity is much more di­verse, how­ever, and there are ex­hibits here that are as dif­fer­ent as chalk and cheese, rang­ing from Ben Ni­chol­son’s chalky scratched pro­file of Bar­bara hep­worth in st rémy, Provence, of 1932, to the cheesy por­trait by Ger­ald Kelly of his wife, Jane. Along­side these are more di­rectly ‘mythic’ sub­jects from Clas­si­cal an­tiq­uity, rein­ter­preted by artists who os­cil­lated on the dial of Modernism and tra­di­tion, such as John Arm­strong and Ed­ward Wadsworth.

Oth­ers, such as Mered­ith Framp­ton, ap­pear to be­come quasi-mod­ern when the dead­pan qual­ity of their re­al­ism tips into sur­re­al­ism. Oth­ers, such as David Jones, were im­mersed in the cul­ture of the an­cient world, find­ing in it metaphors and archetypes for the predica­ments of the present. One must re­call that,

In­spired by a church and stat­ues on Rome’s Capi­to­line Hill: Burra’s Santa Maria in Ara­coeli (1938–39)

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