It’s often easy to take for granted the conventional matters in life. By definition, the normal aspects of the world around us require a minimal part of our attention, therefore making it easier for them to fade into the background.
This applies to the world of art. The Realist painters, whose collective output is far truer to life than, say, the likes of Pablo Picasso, have received far less attention than they deserve.
This is especially true of the Realists who worked in the 1920s and 1930s. There are many Realists in this period who produced fine work which has gone unnoticed in forthcoming years.
That’s why the True to Life exhibition has come at the right time.
This exhibition is being held at the Scottish National Gallery, 1st July- 29th October 2017, as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. It serves as an exploration and celebration of the artists who contributed to the Realist movement in the inter-war period.
A particular emphasis is placed on the artists who have gone relatively unknown over the years, such as Meredith Frampton, Thomas Monnington and Colin Gill. These artists were prominent parts of artistic society in the 1920s and 1930s, but then fell by the wayside when more out-there movements, such as Abstract and Pop Art, became more popular. Hence this exhibition, which aims to bring Realist artwork back into the public consciousness.
One painting seen on display is By the Hills (1939) by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst. This portrait has as its focus a pale lady with black hair, a plain dark dress and a blue neck-scarf. In the background is a grey sky. The woman gazes into the distance, perhaps relying on her own imagination (possibly inviting the audience to do the same) to escape from the dullness of her surroundings.
Another piece which can be found is Restaurant Car (1935) by Leonard Campbell Taylor. Depicted are people sat at tables, being served by a waiter, as they all enjoy a journey on what looks like a train carriage. The contrast between dullness and brightness is more obvious in this painting, demonstrated between the low-lit interior of the train and the vibrant colours of the outside village and sea.
Realism does not mean boring. Its connections with a world we are familiar with can tap into realms of the imagination closed off to other artistic genres. That’s why the True to Life exhibition deserves just as much attention as the artists it celebrates.