Monday, April 06, 2015

Daphne Todd at Messums

Daphne Todd, one of the Judges of The Big Painting Challenge, is currently having a solo exhibition at Messum's at 28 Cork Street in London. In this post I highlight the scope of the show and some of the paintings I love!

Solo exhibition of oil paintings on birch panels
©  Daphne Todd
I missed the PV due to South London rush hour traffic as I tried to get back after the Ravillious preview (of which more tomorrow). Instead I had the delightful experience of a gallery almost all to myself early the following day.

At the end are two links to previous posts devoted to Daphne in which I highlight the way she works for those who like this side of things. Suffice it to say she works entirely from life. There's a fascinating extract from a conversation between Martin Gayford and Daphne Todd in the catalogue (which has very good quality reproductions) in which she says
..."in order to catch what you have seen... a photograph won't necessarily do..what you are doing is catching some aspect of what you are looking at, one that means something to you, or has struck you in some way or has moved you. Therefore the record you make, with the through a photograph or otherwise, is a construct. Now if it satsfies you to go through the process of taking and printing a photograph, that's fine. But the photograph will record all sorts of things that you haven't seen. And it will record a lot of them in ways you didn't perceive them

If you are making things from observation, there is a slight accident abput what gets down on canvas or board - or doesn't get down. But it's a much more conscious series of choices. You are going for this patch of colour and saying something about how it relates to another patch of colour
Things I liked about the exhibition:
  • Daphne's use of colour - it's both naturalistic and quite unlike anything else you will have seen - it's very much a signature style. I'd love to see her paint just to work out which colours are involved in the mixes
  • the range of shapes and sizes - it made for a more interesting exhibition. I find I get bored when everything looks fairly regimented on the wall. She picks and chooses her format for her subject - and then sometimes changes her mind and tacks on another board!
  • her paintings of plants and flowers are memorable - both accurate and painterly at the same time - plus she looks for the colours in the light rather than just the natural colour which makes them feel far more real
Left) Christmas Roses in a paper bag
(right) Celebration Bouquet
oil on birch panels | ©  Daphne Todd
  • I particularly loved the still life painting titled Blue Sky Reflection in a White Still Life. It seemed to me to be very much a painter's painting. It's a challenge to herself to find all the reflected colours in an arrangement of white objects. The website version is probably better than this one!

Blue Sky Reflection in a White Still Life
oil on birch panel |© Daphne Todd
  • The Gallery has a real feeling of the Kent/Sussex borders where she lives - and which is countryside I know well (we like visiting the gardens in that area of the world). I've always maintained that Daphne's paintings of landscapes are some of the best things she does

(left) Ash trees in high summer (right) a selection of still life
and one of my favourite paintings Up against a brick wall
oil on birch panels |© Daphne Todd

Up against a brick wall
oil on birch panel | ©  Daphne Todd
  • She also does some really unusual paintings. This one I particularly emphasised with having spent a very relaxing Sunday afternoon in Provence drawing a wall. It's amazing how much there is to say about a wall.....
  • I love her landscapes - she does something with the trees and the light which is both fantastic and real. However I have to say I don't think my photos in any way do them justice! I was finding the lighting in the gallery to be a real challenge for photography because of the spots - as you can see below in you compare this to the website version. It's certainly worth studying how she paints whether you can get to the gallery to see the show or just view it via the three page virtual exhibition on Messums website

(left) Sky Trails, evening

oil on birch panels | ©  Daphne Todd
  • Daphne is probably best known as a painter of people - and is a Past president of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.

Figurative paintings
oil on birch panels | 
©  Daphne Todd

For those who want to become more confident with colour, who want to be realistic but in a painterly way or just want to look at the paintings of the woman who has spent the last six weeks judging other people's paintings I highly recommend a visit to Messums and/a study of the website and her website. You'll learn a lot!

The exhibition continues until 17 April.

Links to other posts

Other exhibitions in Cork Street

Wilfrid de Glehn

Wilfrid and Jane de Glehn 
Messum's is also holding an exhibition of paintings by Wilfrid de Glehn and his wife Jane.

These are the artists in the very famous painting by John Singer Sargent - in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago and currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery - and on the cover of the catalogue!
Soon after marrying in 1904, they met John Singer Sargent in Venice, the first of many annual painting trips they took together. After his death in 1925, the de Glehns continued to travel, painting a world and a way of life, now largely gone.
It's a very good complement for anybody viewing the Singer Sargent exhibition and Cork Street is not far from the NPG - you can easily walk between the two galleries.

Do take a look at the paintings.

Paintings by Wilfrid de Glehn

James Lloyd at Browse and Darby

There are only two people who have ever won the BP Portrait Award and the Ondaatje Prize (the major prize awarded each year by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters). Daphne Todd is one and James Lloyd is the other. (See James Lloyd wins The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture. Plus Daphne Todd's portrait of Sir Cristopher Ondaatje hangs in the National Portrait Gallery). 

There's an element of congruence that they should both be exhibiting in Cork Street at the same time!

James is also a figurative artist who is realistic but essentially painterly as well.  Plus I used to do his class on 'Drawing the Head" at the Royal Drawing School before my tensynovitis got the better of me.

I always like seeing his experiments in finding different ways to do a self-portrait.  You can see example of this at his current solo exhibition at Browse and Darby  at 19 Cork Street (until 16 April)

James Lloyd - solo show at Browse and Darby
For Cork Street regulars this is the current view of what lies between Messums and Browse and Darby!!

The Cork Street 'Makeover'

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