Friday, 24 June 2011

UnMasterclass 26

UnMasterclass is halfway through it's years worth of programming and we can only hope that a few of you have decided to stumble along to your local, or not so local, gallery and have a look at some paintings up close and personal. That is all we can really ask of you. Painting cannot be seen and understood truly and properly in reproduction. And this week the photographer Thomas Struth came to mind in a rather strange way. As usual UnMasterclass read the sports section of the paper on the bus on the way to the studio, before turning to the rest of the paper, between headlines of Wimbledon rain, escalating war budgets and did he or didn't he revelations of Louis Walsh we happened to be confronted with a rather large snap of Liz and Phil in some grand room somewhere or other We  were rather surprised to find Master Struth has been called upon to take the official 90th birthday snaps of Prince Phillip before turning the page. The image lingered and we recalled the rather fine interview with Struth (which strangely does not mention the honour of photographing the English royalty, but we digress) and specifically  a response to Mark Prince's question about how Struth came to set up his camera in museums.
"Photographing the restorers in Naples brought me back to painting. the restorers have to go deep into the surface of the painting and analyse what the artist did from the ground up. I knew I was not going to resume painting myself, but i was thinking about this process as a form of resurrection. Famous paintings in some museums are almost like tombstones in cemeteries. When people approach a Turner or Delacroix they have so much anxiety to connect with them directly. I thought I would do something to remind people how great painting is."
We of course would never dream of casting ourselves in comparison to the greatness of Struth here at UnMasterclass (after all how did Buckingham palace ask to do the royal portrait, we certainly did not get the call) but in many ways our aim of what we do here is in parallel with the master photographer's closing remark of the quote above. All we want to do is make people remember how great painting is. To remind people that it is not easy, simple, dated, passée or without great and relevant meaning. And alongside the prompt to the gallery we also hope to encourage those that want to paint to learn from paintings in the flesh, not from reproductions. However a painted copy of a Thomas Struth museum photograph is certainly something we would encourage anyone to take the baton up for. So as ever we say pop along to a museum, see a painting in the oil paint flesh and breath it in and spend time contemplating and trying to enter the painters mind. And maybe if you are so willing or need a prompt to don your hat and get out to the museum then pop along to see the halfway through the season UnMasterclass here

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