Jock McFadyen writes: ‘In the early 1980s when I began to make work which was based on observation, I was living and working in the East End. St Anne’s Limehouse was a 3 minute walk…standing as a counterpoint (to) a landscape of mediocrity and I couldn’t resist making a series of paintings to celebrate the contrast.
Saturday, 19 May 2012
168. HAWKSMOOR AND PEPSI by JOCK McFADYEN
Architecture Space, Royal Academy
The dog on the left looks out of the picture, perkily showing off his black eye to the canvas. The gentlemen on the right has seen better days, indeed it doesn’t look as if he’s seeing much at all at the present moment, for he’s sporting another sort of black eye. Everything looks as blurry to him as the graffiti does to us. Centre stage is a stocky woman. Her eyes are on something outside the picture, something we can’t see. But then we can see what’s behind her. She’s framed as if in a portrait, by one of Nicholas Hawsmoor’s fabulous London churches.
McFadyen's painting is one of many exhibits bringing to life a small show at the Royal Academy, which is celebrating the 350th anniversary of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s birth (1662 –1736). Alas, exhibitions of architecture are often hard work, for they only give us drawings and models and photographs, which are but pale imitations of something standing full square out there in the real world. Here Hawksmoor’s astounding London churches are brought to life by being surrounded by the cultural heritage he inspired. Images of his churches are juxtaposed with artworks, films and writings by poets, critics and novelists. There are fragments from T C Eliot’s Wasteland and Horace Walpole; Charles Dickens and Phillip Pullman; Peter Ackroyd and Ian Sinclair.
The show is a refeshing reminder of the originality and spendour of those ‘restless facades and extraordinary disruptions of scale (which) make their presence felt in the London visions of Hogarth and Dickens’, as Thomas Marks wrote in The Daily Telegraph. Here is Hogarth's Gin Palace.
The block-busting shows you hear about at the RA mostly come with a not insubstantial price tag. I found this exhibition by going into the RA and asking if I could see any free art. (I used to be a Member but blogging now takes me to less well known sites). The show is scrunched up in a glorified corridor on the ground floor (which happens to be to the left of the Ladies loo). It’s easily missed, but well worth the effort