The Rules of Abstraction with Matthew Collings, BBC4 - TV review


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The Rules of Abstraction with Matthew Collings was an uplifting watch. The artist and critic began his 90-minute programme by tracing the history of abstract art back to its origins in the fascinating 19th-century Theosophy movement of Helena Blavatsky. From here he moved on to the colours and shapes of Kandinsky, Pollock, Rothko and more. Throughout, there were studio visits and interviews with working artists as they created new abstract pieces.

Collings' talent was to make his programme feel very much like visiting a gallery in a new city on a sunny day with an erudite friend. We were allowed to take long looks a lot of beautiful, wildly incomprehensible art, while Collings stood in the corner of the frame and gentle urged us to keep an open mind.

In short, he resisted the temptation to chin-stroke. And with a beard that lustrous, it must have been a fierce temptation indeed.