Must see: Philip Guston: Late Paintings, Inverleith House, Edinburgh
An intimate encounter with an artist's inner monologue
The Independent’s former comment editor, Adrian Hamilton writes a weekly column largely on international affairs with particular focus on the Middle East, Iran and foreign policy issues. Before joining the paper he was deputy editor of the Observer newspaper.
Saturday 25 August 2012
In 1967, after a two-year absence from painting and at the age of 54, one of America's leading abstract expressionists, Philip Guston, shocked the art world by a return to figuration with art of a cartoon-like quality that seemed to belie the intensity of his abstract work.
Yet today his "late" paintings are regarded among his finest. A show in Edinburgh gives these late works a display that suits them: encountering them as you move through the domestic space is an experience at once surprising but real.
You can engage with contemporary art not as a monumental statement set on the bare walls of some industrial building, but in the intimacy of confined quarters.
The imagery is crude, yet you are drawn in to the conversation of an artist talking to himself and then looking up at you with an ironic, despairing grin.
Guston gives you himself in these paintings, and the counter-point between knowingness and innocence makes the work intriguing.
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