Goya, The Portraits, at the National Gallery

What an exhibition! I visited last week, it was mesmerising, and such a vast collection, makes me question my own work output…. his portraits are so expressive and dreamy, with such emphasis and attention to the character and psychology of his sitter. I left admiring his devotion to his work; you really sense his passion and determination to capture his sitter’s quirks and qualities. His portraits aren’t all technically perfect, with vanishing table legs and ill proportioned limbs, but these inconsistencies complement the attention to detail elsewhere in the painting, revealing so much more about the artist’s character and approach to painting. I was also so impressed with how he captures different textures in his work with sumptuous velvet and etherial lace cuffs painted so convincingly. I particularly loved the portraits of his close friends with the leaflet that accompanied the exhibition saying:

“With all those that he loved, it seems that painting their portrait was an essential seal of his affections, the portrait functioning as a special bond between artist and sitter.”

This really resonates with me as I feel almost compelled to create portraits for my own family and friends, like my recent portrait of Izzy. I guess it gives me a chance to really express how I see them as well as give them something that is unique and that they can pass on.

Anyway, if you’re in London you must go! Keep an eye out for the little business card type advertisements of himself incorporated into his paintings and also make sure you watch the film at the end, its a short summary of his life and work, adding more light to his character as well as concluding the exhibition perfectly.

Find out more here: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/goya-exhibition-in-focus

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