Bo Bartlett

Feb 16

I first saw the paintings of Vilhelm Hammershoi when I was travelling in Europe on a @PAFAcademy Travelling Scholarship in 1980. The Museum in Copenhagen has a room devoted solely to his work. As with many who stumble upon Hammershoi, discovering his work was a revelation for me. How could an artist so important have been overlooked. One can see the influences on his work by another artist who strove to portray the ineffable mysteries of light and time- Vermeer. Vermeer’s Lacemaker 1669 is a precedent for Hammershoi’s portrait of his sister Anna sewing 1887. Balthus was clearly effected by Hammershoi’s distilled spaces and figures. This is particularly evident in the paintings in which Balthus’ figures turn away from the viewer and pause before an open window. These paintings have very little to do with action, narrative, or reality. They pulse with timelessness, like a scene in a film by Tarkovsky. Artists of the ‘Mystical Tradition’ address the unutterable in their work. They go beyond surface appearances and delve into a realm in which chronological time dissolves. The work of these artists is no longer about ideas. It is no longer about drama. It is no longer about human travails. It is no longer about anything that words can describe. The visual trumps the verbal. The emotion trumps the idea. Perhaps this is why some of the artists in this tradition are quietly swept under the rug. The artist has distilled their emotions of life into a piece which is difficult to categorize in the tenets of established pre-described genres. These works existentially probe the places where the mysteries of light and time meld into one seamless mise en scene. A Hammershoi exhibition opened this month at the National Gallery of Denmark and runs through May 20th. 

http://www.smk.dk/en/explore-the-art/exhibitions/hammershoei-and-europe/about-the-exhibition/


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    beautiful !
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