Dutch Flowers

Prior to PHOTO LONDON, I visited National Gallery for an new exhibition, Dutch Flowers. The event was timed to coincide with RHS’s flower shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court.

I am afraid there is no image to show you as photographing was banned at this particular show. 

In spite of being a small scale show, it didn’t disappoint me, or it was precisely because a number of the paintings were limited, I was left craving for more. The works by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Jan van Huysum and Rachel Ruysch were utterly exquisite and it transformed the walls of the intimate gallery space to a heavenly visual feast.

A tradition of Dutch flower painting stemmed from the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century. During this period, the country underwent successful wars and a transition to becoming a republic, and as a result, prospered in trade, science, military and art. Most notably, Dutch East India Company had emerged and it monopolised on Asian trade for two centuries. A large variety of exotic goods were imported from all over the world in order to satisfy insatiable desire of a new social class – the affluent middle class which was consisted of Protestant ministers, lawyers, physicians, small merchants, industrialists and clerks of large state institutions. 

Tulip was one of those exotic arrivals from the East which was introduced to the Dutch soil by Carolus Clusius, a famous biologist from Vienna…

A point of Dutch still life painting differed greatly from the Baroque-style art which dominated the rest of the 17th century Europe. Instead of idealising religion or the existing political hierarchy and using mythical figures for expressing the splendours, Dutch artists studied their subjects with more observant eye, surveying and drafting as scientists or doctors would dissect and analyse their specimens. 

Cognoscenti in a Room hung with pictures, painted about 1620…

A Dutch flower painting is hung on the wall of the imaginary gallery in Antwerp. 

My eyes traced details on each part of the paintings – a petal, a leaf, a stem, a stalk, as well as the vase it was placed and the insects which congregated around it. They were meticulously illustrated and the result was magically real and fascinating. The sensation of seeing the paintings recalled a joyful time I enjoyed while I attended a drawing class when I was young. How a simple exercise of being face to face with the subject and transferring what my eyes saw onto a sheet of paper removed me from a chaos of daily life and enriched my sense for the objects around me. I would love to take up the practice again, I thought.

There were a few images I spotted at PHOTO LONDON yesterday.

Still life by Sharon Core…

Nexus by Ysabel Lemay…

Peaches and Hydrangeas by Paulette Tavormina…

Visiting the exhibition made me realise that I was being lazy when it came to seeing things. Because of my everyday life being inundated with objects jockeying to catch my eyes through shop windows, TV, internet and a smartphone, my attention span in general became far too short to discover anything meaningful. 

I must remember feasting with my eye and nourishing my mind can only happen when I take time to stop and look properly…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Midsummer Night’s Fête @ Royal Academy, W1

‘OMG, it’s bright!’ I winced and rummaged around in the bag for a pair of shades as the early evening sunshine whacked my retinas unexpectedly.
Oh yeah, it’s the summer solstice, isn’t it? No wonder it stayed so bright until so late…

A balmy summer evening on Piccadilly…

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At Royal Academy of Arts, I was to rendezvous with my gorgeous girlfriends, Fei & Nicky, so we could enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Fête together. At the main gate, I was given a ticket for one free drink and looked for Fei & Nicky who were supposed to be amongst the lined crowd…

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Thanks to our iPhones, we managed to locate each other. A group photo with glasses in our hands…

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The British summer evening at its best. Mellow & balmy…

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The upstairs galleries were a venue for the 246th Summer Exhibition…

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In the first gallery, we were greeted by the artwork “Cake Man” by Yinka Shonibare…

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The figure, bearing a tower of cakes precariously stuck up on its back, was a representation of greedy bankers in the City and Wall Street, a description by the artist explained.

The next space accommodated large-scale paintings…

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This work was my favourite, BTW…

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The gallery also housed a bar which served gin & tonic as well as Pimms. At the end of the room, there was a stage for live music too…

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A typical scene of the Summer Exhibition at RA. The walls were covered with artworks in all shapes & sizes…

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Some works were romantic & dreamy…

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while others were rather dark and scary…

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Is this how Jerry sees a cheese grate? Oversized utensils in the middle of the gallery…

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Unfortunately, I was rather underwhelmed by James Turrell’s light sculpture. The venue had too much ambient lighting which dulled the intensity of the colours. What a shame…

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A figure of a young girl with her eyes closed stood demurely in the corner of one gallery…

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The work reminded me porcelain dolls by Lladró. The profile was delicate and sensual which made me want to stoke it (but I didn’t, of course)…

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The last room was the smallest and the most intimate space and Fei, Nicky & I unanimously agreed that it was our most favourite…

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The all four walls were adorned with small artworks, resembling a Victorian reception room proudly decorated by a fabulously eccentric old lady…

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Two unicorns in the wood. We all adored this painting / sculpture…

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From this photo, the work looks like a conventional painting but it is in fact a 3-D! It was so romantic! We sighed and then, we mused that it would be wonderful if we could hole ourselves up in a sitting room like this with a bottle of good wine & a box of chocolate. All night long, we would discuss about each one of artworks and it would be such fun!

Amongst the visitors, there were also a few performance artists roaming around the exhibition.

This ghost-like artist scared me the most…

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He carried a pink column like object with him and was shuffling around the galleries quietly.

He stopped time to time, asking visitors to scribble on the column…

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This lady with enormous paper hat was chatting with spectators and handing out lollipop-like paper object…

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I wasn’t sure what this gentleman was up to…

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When we came out of the building eventually, the party in the courtyard was already in full swing – a band, bottles of bubblies, cupcakes & pork pies…

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The hands of my wristwatch indicated that the time was nearly nine o’clock. No wonder we were so hungry…

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So we headed towards Chinatown eagerly, salivating over the thought of soup dumplings at Dumpling Legend…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Candy By Damien Hirst

My internet is still out of action.
I have been trying to resuscitate the modem by repeatedly unplugging and rebooting. At one stage, flashing blue lights came on which made me hover with my fingers crossed. Yet, still no internet connection and hopes were dashed.
I’ve never realised how much I depend upon the internet until I am deprived of it. Apart from a cellular connection through my iPhone, I have no way of updating my blog or checking FB status. Still, it’s far better than nothing. Plus, I am pleased to discover that a WordPress app for iPhone is not at all bad. Besides, the present inconvenience is a perfect dress rehearsal for me blogging from Japan during a 3 weeks stay after Christmas. Once our broadband is reinstated, I would love to check how the posts I have uploaded through the iPhone app look like, especially picture and font size.

Last Tuesday, I was happened to be around Hanover Square. After my hair salon appointment, I was heading towards Liberty and noticed an airy gallery with colourful exhibit…

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Being intrigued, I decided to investigate what it was all about.
The show, titled “Candy”, exhibited paintings by Damien Hirst and installations by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

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The Visual Candy paintings by Damien Hirst…

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While ostensibly abstract, the paintings were depiction of medicinal pills. The series was created as Hirst’s witty riposte to an art critic who dismissed his Spot Paintings as ‘just visual candy’.

The brush strokes were energetic and the colours employed were vibrant. A dynamic style of the paintings was refreshingly different from his earlier works. which were elaborate and somehow clinical.

The installations by Felix Gonzalez-Torres were made of real candies…

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The viewer was invited to eat the candies but no one wasn’t doing so…

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If a ‘Help yourself’ sign was put up next to each work, the audience might have interacted with the work more.

The exhibition will be on until this Saturday. Go and have a candy or two if you are in the area!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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