Cel­e­brat­ing the ab­stract

The Church of England - - REVIEWS -

Con­sid­ered a di­verse and tal­ented post-war painter in his na­tive United States, Richard Diebenkorn’s art takes view­ers on a jour­ney from ab­strac­tion­ism to fig­u­ra­tion and then back again. His ex­hi­bi­tion is cur­rently on dis­play at the Royal Academy of Arts un­til 7 June.

The gallery is di­vided into three dis­tinct pe­ri­ods of Diebenkorn’s ca­reer: his early ab­stract work, his fig­u­ra­tion work, and then his popular Ocean Park se­ries. Diebenkorn’s work fo­cuses on ar­eas in Cal­i­for­nia and other parts of the States where he resided through­out his ca­reer. This cur­rent ex­hi­bi­tion is a unique dis­play that shows, for the first time, some of Diebenkorn’s pa­per works along­side his small and largescale paint­ings on can­vas.

Although Diebenkorn’s work is im­pres­sive, with its range of sizes and sub­jects, this ex­hi­bi­tion is aimed at those who en­joy ab­strac­tion­ism. His colour palettes are fas­ci­nat­ing and draw the viewer into the piece, but would not be fully ap­pre­ci­ated by all.

The paint­ings re­veal the colours of what he is rep­re­sent­ing with­out delv­ing fur­ther into the de­tails while still cap­tur­ing the essence of the set­ting. This gives at­ten­dees a more ac­tive role in the view­ing process, al­low­ing them to de­ter­mine the more spe­cific as­pects of the paint­ings for them­selves. Diebenkorn has a ten­dency to leave his pen­cil marks on dis­play; there­fore re­veal­ing to the viewer the long and of­ten try­ing process that it took to get the fin­ished prod­ucts that they see be­fore them. Even in his fig­u­ra­tion works, Diebenkorn avoids de­pict­ing his sub­jects with too much de­tail.

While his work is well known in the States, with his paint­ings be­ing found in most ma­jor US col­lec­tions and even in Pres­i­dent Obama’s per­sonal quar­ters in the White House; he is not as widely ex­hib­ited in Europe. His only ma­jor solo show was in 1991 at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Ad­mis­sion to the ex­hi­bi­tion is £11.50 (£10 ex­clud­ing do­na­tion); con­ces­sions are avail­able; chil­dren un­der 16 and Friends of the RA go free. There are a se­ries of events re­volv­ing around the ex­hi­bi­tion in­clud­ing gallery talks that are with an ex­hi­bi­tion ticket. From 17 March to 29 May there will be 45minute in­tro­duc­tory ex­hi­bi­tion tours 2.30pm Tues­days and 7pm Fri­days. There will also be 10-minute spot­light talks on in­di­vid­ual works 3pm on Thurs­days.

Ash­ley Prevo

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